PyeongChang, February 9, 2018 (Hina) - The XXIII Olympic Winter Game- hosting 2,900 athletes from 92 countries, including 19 Croatian athletes - were officially opened before 30,000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang on Friday, February 9.

The central part of the ceremony was a solemn parade and the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will be the first to host athletes from more than 90 NOCs, among which the athletes under the Croatian flag will perform for the eighth time. The Croatian flag was carried by a 31-year-old skier Natko Zrnčić Dim, as our sixth flag bearer and, besides Vedran Pavlek and Janica and Ivica Kostelić, the fourth Alpine skier to carry the Croatian flag at the Winter Olympics’ Opening Ceremony since the Republic of Croatia has become the independent state.
Janica Kostelić was bearing the flag three times, for the first time as a sixteen-year-old perspective skier at the XVIII Olympic Winter Games in Nagano in 1998. She then performed in all Alpine skiing disciplines and the eighth place she won in Combined was the best placement of Croatian representatives at the Winter Olympics. She carried the Croatian flag for second time in 2002 at the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 when she – by winning gold medals in Combined, Slalom and Giant Slalom – became the most successful skier in Alpine disciplines, the only one who managed to win four medals, three gold medals and one silver medal, at single Olympics.

In Turin in 2006, Janica Kostelić carried he Croatian flag for the third time at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics, after which she returned home with a total of four gold and two silver medals, becoming thus the most successful Alpine skier at the Winter Olympics. The first bearer of the Croatian flag, at Winter Olympics in Albertville in 1992 was the figure skater Tomislav Čižmešija, and this honor was given to skier Vedrana Pavlek in Lillehammer in 1994. At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the flag was carried by Ivica Kostelić and in Vancouver by Jakov Fak.

In PyeongChang, there will be four more National Olympic Committees represented than in Sochi in 2014 and 10 more than in Vancouver in 2010. At these Winter Olympics, the solemn parade comprising, for the first time, of the representatives of six NOCs - Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore. The most numerous representation in the history of Winter Olympics will be those of the United States of America, whose Olympic Committee will be represented in PyeongChang by as many as 242 athletes. In the festive parade, two Koreas marching together under a common white flag with the blue outline of the Korean Peninsula.

In the protocol part of the program, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Lee Hee-Beom, stressed in his speech that the Olympics will be a global festival of peace.

"It will be a game of culture, modern technology and peace. The victory is not the most important but the fight and all of you athletes are already winners and heroes", said Hee-Beom adding that the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang mark the beginning of a four-year period in which the Far East will be embraced with the spirit of Olympics, because Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics in 2020 and Beijing will be the host of the XXIV Winter Olympic Games in 2022.
" President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach stressed that "United in our diversity, we are stronger than all the forces that want to divide us.”
"Thanks to all who have enabled this moment. Special thanks to the thousands of volunteers who have warmly welcomed us. Dear athletes, it is your turn! This will be the competition of your life. Over the next couple of days, the world will look at you as an inspiration. Enjoy the Olympic performance only if you respect the rules and stay clean. Only then will your lifelong memories be memories of a true Olympic spirit, " said Bach after whom the South Korean President Moon Jae-in opened the Winter Olympics.
The culmination of the celebration that lasted for over two hours was the lighting of the Olympic torch, performed by the Olympic winner from Vancouver and winner of silver from Sochi, the figure skater Yuna Kim.
Winter Olympics 2018 will present the largest sets of medals. For the first time, there will be more than 100 medals and the exact number is 102. Four years ago in Sochi there were 2858 athletes competing for 98 sets, and in Vancouver there were 2633 athletes competing 86 sets.
Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will be remembered by the introduction of technological innovations such as self-propelled buses and 11 different types of robots that will be available to the participants and visitors of the Olympics. (Hina) xdl ydl