On Feb. 9, the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea will begin. There will be the traditional opening ceremony that will begin at 8 p.m. and then the games will begin. There are a few sports that will begin the day of and even the day before: curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing and ski jumping. But, most of the sports will begin the following day.
The Olympic games began in ancient Greece, where they were originally a festival or a celebration for the Greek god Zeus. The Grecian men would volunteer themselves to perform different sports and tasks to please their gods. The people came from as far as what was then Iberia, what is now Spain and Turkey, or The Black Sea. The Olympics get their name from Mount Olympus and the significance that the location held to the gods. The games began in 776 BC.
The last few Winter Olympic Games were held in Sochi, Vancouver and Turin, Italy. The Sochi games were the first time that the Russian Confederation had hosted the Winter Olympic games.
In 1980, the Summer Olympic games were held in Moscow while Russia was still being occupied by the Soviet Union. Sochi’s Olympic Park was constructed along the Black Sea, which is where some of the original competitors of the first Olympic games were held.
During the Sochi games, there were 2780 athletes, and more than 40 percent were women. There were 88 countries that competed and 98 events that were held. Six countries competed for the first time in the Olympic games this past Winter Olympics: Malta, Paraguay, Timor Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe. There were 12 new events that were added: the ski halfpipe for men and women, ski slopestyle for men and women, snowboard slopestyle for men and women, snowboard parallel slalom, women’s ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, a new figure skating team event and a luge team relay. There were more than 2,500 doping tests performed. It was the biggest hunt for any illegal drug usage in the history of the Olympic games.
There are new mascots chosen for each location and set of games. The mascots represent different components of the country and its culture. In Sochi, they were the hare, the polar bear and the leopard. There were three chosen to represent the three spots on the Olympic podium: Gold, Silver and Bronze. They were also chosen by the people of Russia, with thousands of hand drawn entries from all over the country.
In PyeongChang, the mascots will be Soohorang, the white tiger and Bandabai, the black bear. Soohorang was chosen for the Olympic games because the white tiger has been considered Korea’s guardian angel for many years, and the hope is that he will protect the competitors on and off the slopes. Bandabai was chosen for the Paralympic games because the Asiatic black bear has a half moon on its chest and symbolizes strong willpower and courage in Korean folklore.
The biggest news surrounding the 2018 Olympics is that North Korea and South Korea are pairing up to create a women’s hockey team. The team is comprised of 28 South Koreans and 12 North Koreans. This was news coming off the hostile feelings between the two countries after North Korea had made threats of nuclear war with their Southern counterparts. The North Koreans also felt the need to send their own coach to work alongside the team, though whether that was requested by the South Koreans is unknown.
The estimated cost for the Winter Olympics is around $10 billion, which is about $5 billion less than it cost to host the games in Sochi. There will be a record of 102 medals awarded in the 15 disciplines. Team USA is sending 243 athletes to the games, with one athlete from Ohio: Madison Hubbell, a 26-year-old figure skater. The state sending the most athletes is California with a whopping 31 athletes.
The Olympics will conclude Feb. 25. Following that will be the Paralympics in PyeongChang will begin on March 9 and will finish on March 18.