The Olympic Games are an event like no other. For a month, countries will set aside political and social tensions to celebrate athletes who’ve dedicated most, if not all, of their lives to athletics. What makes the Games valuable is that it only occurs every four years. What makes the Games memorable is that it involves countries and continents from all over the globe. Back home, as viewers see a carefully orchestrated event that took decades of planning and years of athletic training and commitment in order to come to fruition. And it’s something amazing to witness.
The Winter and Summer Games no doubt have their differences. While winter and summer sports are strenuous in their own ways, some winter athletes must also face the unpredictability of natural terrain. The upcoming Winter Games have a few changes that are happening that didn’t occur in 2014 in Sochi. Here’s why the Olympics in Pyeongchang will be a time of firsts.
1. North and South Korean athletes might be walking together.
News recently broke that not only are North and South Korea planning to walk together at the Opening Ceremony, under the Korean Unification flag, but athletes might also compete together on the same team. The last time the flag was used was in the Sydney Games in 2006. However, this is still a tentative proposal as a result of talks between the two nations, according to Vox. It’s ultimately up to the International Olympics Committee to give approval, and not everyone has been open to the idea.
2. Nigeria will best the first African nation to compete in bobsled.
The team consists of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga, and they will be the first Nigerians to compete in a Winter Games event. The three women are track and field athletes who might be used to sprinting, but next month, they’ll be ones to look out for in Pyeongchang.
3. Due to the doping scandal, Russian athletes currently face uncertainty in competing.
Some Russian athletes were found guilty of doping in the Sochi Games, and it’s severely impacted not only their credibility but the opportunity of fellow athletes who didn’t cheat. Athletes who are lucky enough to compete will do so under the Olympic flag, as Olympic Athletes from Russia, and the roster still isn’t official yet what with appeals and reviews still being made. Zasport released sketches of the confirmed Russian athletes’ uniforms, and they intentionally don’t feature the Russian flag.
4. If you live in the US, you’ll be able to watch the events live despite your time zone.
If you’re located on the West Coast and are tired of always having to wait for programming, fret no more because NBC will have live coverage of the events. No matter where you are in the US, you’ll be able to watch the competitions at the same as everyone else with no prior spoilers.
5. It will be South Korea’s first time hosting the Winter Olympics.
While South Korea previously hosted the Summer Olympics, it’s their first time for the Winter Games. Pyeongchang is pretty isolated from major cities but close to the mountains, and athletes will be taking trains to reach the city from Seoul. 13 venues will be used for the events, including skiing, hockey, and alpine centers, as well as ice arenas.
6. Four new events have been added.
The IOC implemented four new sports, big air snowboarding, freestyle skiing, mass start speedskating, and mixed doubles curling in order to give a refreshing spin on the traditional sports. When athletes make records in these new events, they’ll be the first. What will also improve athletes chances of placing is that a record number of 102 medals will be awarded.
When are the Winter Olympics? The Games will commence on February 9th, 2018 in Pyeongchang.