Relive the highlights of the PyeongChang 2018 Opening Ceremony 

Athletes from North and South Korea marching together, a topless Tongan, and an Olympic figure skating champion stole the show in the Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.

Historic. Spectacular. Mesmerising.

Just some of the words used to describe the Opening Ceremony of the 23rd Olympic Winter Games, PyeongChang 2018, held on 9th February 2018. The dazzling opening act celebrated culture, history, unity, youth and peace.

In early January, high-ranking officials from the Korean neighbours met for the first time in two years in the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Ri Son Gwon (L), head of the North Korea delegation, shakes hands with South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon in Panmunjom on 9th January 2018
Ri Son Gwon (L), head of the North Korea delegation, shakes hands with South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon in Panmunjom on 9th January 2018Ri Son Gwon (L), head of the North Korea delegation, shakes hands with South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon in Panmunjom on 9th January 2018

It was agreed that North Korea would send athletes and cheerleaders to the Games, with the idea floated that the two teams could march together in the Opening Ceremony.

And on 20th January, IOC President Thomas Bach announced that the two squads would unite under the name Korea and "be led into the Olympic Stadium by the Korean Unification Flag, carried by two athletes, one from each NOC."

Later, ahead of the Opening Ceremony, Bach said he was greatly looking forward to the joint march. A joint march that heralded a new Olympic dawn.

Bach: Joint march will be the moment of the Games

Bach: Joint march will be the moment of the Games

Bach also announced there would be 22 North Korean athletes taking part in five disciplines, including 12 in a unified Korea women's ice hockey team.

Coached by Sarah Murray, their story is told in the Olympic Channel documentary 'We Are One'.

Weather fears subside

One concern ahead of the Olympics was freezing temperatures.

In contrast to the positively mild conditions in Sochi, PyeongChang was set to be the coldest Games on record.

To compound matters, the venue for the Opening Ceremony was the open-air PyeongChang Olympic Main Stadium.

Spectators were encouraged to wrap up warm with organisers handing out hand and seat warmers.

In the end, it was not quite as cold as expected with temperatures dropping to zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) at the start of the ceremony.

And there was one man who was quite grateful for the slightly warmer air.

INSIDER: Ceremonial dress - check out the must-have kit for PyeongChang

INSIDER: Ceremonial dress - check out the must-have kit for PyeongChang

Pita does it again

Tongan taekwondo player Pita Taufatofua had social media abuzz when he carried his nation's flag at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony.

Unbeknown to officials, Taufatofua slipped out of his suit, put on a ta'ovala (a skirt-like mat) and some coconut oil, and made a shiny entrance to Rio's Maracana Stadium.

Soon after, Taufatofua announced his intention to become just the second athlete from Tonga to qualify for a Winter Olympic Games after luger Bruno Banani at Sochi 2014.

He chose cross-country skiing as his sport and, after initially training on rollerskis, went to Europe to step up his bid.

And despite some notable setbacks, Taufatofua managed to book his place in PyeongChang with just five minutes to spare in the last qualifying event in Iceland.

So when it came to the Opening Ceremony, the big question was whether Tonga's only athlete in Korea would stage a repeat performance.

And he did not disappoint.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 119 in the 15km freestyle, and plans to compete in his third Olympics at Tokyo 2020.

He is expected to announce which discipline he will target later in February.

The joint march

Bach had predicted that the sight of athletes from North and South Korea marching together would be one of the highlights of the entire Games.

He was proved correct.

Opening Ceremony tradition dictates that Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Olympics, parades first with the host nation out last.

As the moment drew closer, the anticipation grew within the arena.

The two Koreas march together as one

The two Koreas march together as one

And then they entered with North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung Gum, a member of the unified Korea women's team, and bobsleigh driver Won Yun-jong both carrying the Korean Unification flag.

With at least one notable exception, the crowd rose as one to greet the joint-team's arrival.

Bach later admitted that doubt remained over the joint-march taking place until around four hours before the Opening Ceremony.

"Stones falling from my heart" - Bach on PyeongChang Opening Ceremony

Thankfully, all issues were resolved to leave us with one of the most iconic sights at any Olympic Games.

It also gave the world a first glimpse of North Korea's singing cheerleaders.

North Korean cheerleaders hold Korean Unification flags during the Opening Ceremony
North Korean cheerleaders hold Korean Unification flags during the Opening CeremonyNorth Korean cheerleaders hold Korean Unification flags during the Opening Ceremony

The squad of over 200 young women became a familiar accompaniment to the ice hockey team's exploits in PyeongChang.

Fashion highs and lows

While Pita Taufatofua stole the show with his shirtless repeat, other countries had their own say in the fashion stakes.

Athletes from Bermuda did their nation proud by defying the temperatures to wear Bermuda shorts in the Opening Ceremony.

Their flagbearer was Tucker Murphy, who actually finished 10 places higher than Taufatofua in the cross-country skiing 15km freestyle.

The United States had spared no expense trying to keep their athletes warm in Korea.

Their ski jackets boasted rechargeable pocket battery packs which, when activated, sent heat to a conductive panel printed on the inside of the back.

They looked pretty good too, but the Team USA outfit had one fatal flaw.

What is going on with those gloves?
What is going on with those gloves?What is going on with those gloves?

Have you ever seen gloves that big?

The suede-fringed numbers might have been warm but they were far from aesthetically pleasing.

And social media was quick to see the funny side...

Whether it was in response to the ridicule, or previously planned, Team USA had some sleeker mittens with removable tops for the Closing Ceremony.

Much better... Team USA don mittens for the Closing Ceremony
Much better... Team USA don mittens for the Closing CeremonyMuch better... Team USA don mittens for the Closing Ceremony

The elegance of Yuna Kim

The Opening Ceremony drew to a spectacular close as 2010 figure skating gold medallist Yuna Kim lit the Olympic Flame on skates.

The Korean favourite, who retired from competition after taking silver at Sochi 2014, showed her trademark elegance and poise as she twirled and spun on a high platform.

She was then met by two members of the unified Korean women’s hockey team who had run up 120 steps to deliver the Olympic Torch.

Despite being nervous at possibly falling, 'Queen Yuna' skated flawlessly before lighting the cauldron.

Yuna Kim lights the Olympic flame

Yuna Kim lights the Olympic flame

Kim's appearance as the last torchbearer was the hottest secret in PyeongChang.

But she was the obvious choice, not only for her sporting achievements but also for her work as an ambassador of the Games.

PyeongChang had failed in attempts to host both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games, but Kim - weeks after claiming her first world title in 2009 - announced her backing of a third bid which ultimately proved successful.

Kim was the reigning Olympic champion when PyeongChang won the right to host the Games in 2011, and she continued to promote the event in the years ahead.

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