Olympic Games opening ceremony set for Friday morning

Ice dance superstars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are flag-bearers leading Canadian contingent

Olympic Games opening ceremony set for Friday morning
Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir go through their routine during a practice session in Gangneung, South Korea on Wednesday. © Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

By Pete Evans, CBC News

Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium will be the focus of attention Friday morning for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

While some athletic events, including mixed doubles curling, figure skating, ski jumping and freestyle skiing, are underway, the opening ceremony will mark the formal start of the Games.

The opening ceremony starts at 8 p.m. local time in South Korea and 6 a.m. ET in Canada. CBC is the exclusive Canadian broadcaster for the Games, and live coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m. Viewers can watch the show on CBC-TV or on CBC News Network, online at CBC.ca/olympics, and via the CBC Olympic app for Android and iOS.

Exact details of what will be staged during the ceremony aren't known, outside the regular parade of nations involving athletes from their respective countries entering the stadium during a procession.

According to Olympic tradition, athletes and other team members from Greece, the country of origin of the Olympics, will lead the procession, and the host nation — South Korea — will enter the stadium last.

Teams from each country will then head into the stadium in alphabetical order, based on the host country's language, meaning Canadian athletes will be 69th in the procession, led by ice-dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the flag-bearers. Team Canada is made up of 225 athletes and 87 coaches — the country's largest-ever delegation for a Winter Games.

Team Canada is expected to enter the stadium around 7:15 a.m. ET on Friday morning.

Virtue and Moir are three-time Olympians are again looking to strike gold, after winning the ice dancing title in Vancouver in 2010 before taking the silver four years ago in Sochi.

Click the video player below to watch Virtue and Moir's interview with CBC Sports host Scott Russell:

"This is what we've been dreaming about," Virtue told the CBC's Scott Russell on Thursday. Moir said while there are numerous Canadians in Pyeongchang worthy of the honour, they are proud they will be carrying their country's flag.

"While we're the flag-bearers, we're marching together," Moir said. "It is special to be flag-bearers, but the true honour is just to be a part of that team."

The Canadian connections won't end once Team Canada has taken its place in the stadium. Ninety-one different countries are competing, including six countries making their Winter Games debuts. Two of the countries that are new to the Games will feature athletes who were either born or raised in Canada:

  • Alpine skier Shannon-Ogbani Abeda was born in Fort McMurray, Alta., but will become the first person to compete at the Winter Olympics for Eritrea.
  • Speedskater Cheyenne Goh was raised in Edmonton, moving there as a child with her parents. She was born in Singapore and will become that city-state's first winter Olympian.

Ecuador, Nigeria, Malaysia and Kosovo are also making their Winter Olympic debuts.

Political component

The opening ceremony will feature performances by a number of Korean pop stars.

Regardless of the usual pomp and pageantry, the event will be witnesses by world political leaders.

Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is expected at the opening ceremony, which would make her the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit the South since the Korean War ended in 1953.

The U.S. will be represented by Vice-President Mike Pence, but it's not expected he will have any formal interactions with North Korean dignitaries.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette will be the Canadian government's official representative for Friday's ceremony. Kirsty Duncan, the newly minted minister of sport and persons with disabilities, is also in Pyeongchang, although it's not known if she will attend the opening ceremony.