Every four years athletes from around the world compete on the greatest sporting stage in the world: the Olympics. To facilitate the wide variety of sports, the Olympics is broken up into the summer and winter versions. This year it’s time for the Winter Olympics, which starts on 9 February and ends on 25 February 2018.
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Here are eight things you need to know about the 2018 Winter Olympics:
1. South Korea are the 2018 Winter Olympics hosts
South Korea, specifically the city of PyeongChang, will do the honours of hosting this year’s Winter Olympics. PyeongChang is a county in Gangwon Province located in the Taebaek Mountains region. This is the first time that South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics and it’s the second Olympics held in the country since the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
PyeongChang’s elevation makes it a popular destination for hiking and skiing. Many of the events will be held at Alpensia Sports Park, which is part of the popular Alpensia Resort in the county. South Korea is seven hours ahead of South Africa.
2. The Winter Olympics is truly an international affair
In total, this year’s Games will include 15 different sports showcased in 102 events over the course of 18 days, with some events taking place on the eve of the opening ceremony. There will be almost 3 000 athletes from 92 countries, including the debut of Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.
3. Africa will be represented at the Games
This year sees the highest number of African countries ever represented at the Winter Olympics – eight. A total of 13 African countries have been represented at the games, in the past with at least one African country participating every year since 1984. This year, that total will increase to 15 as Eritrea and Nigeria compete for the very first time.
The eight African countries competing this year are South Africa, Eritrea, Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Ghana, Madagascar and Togo, and they will be sending a total of 13 athletes to compete.
What’s most exciting for us South Africans is that we have one athlete to support! None other than 21-year-old Connor Wilson will be waving the South African flag at the opening ceremony and will compete in the Alpine Skiing Slalom/Giant Slalom event, which will take place on 18 February.
Here’s the full list of the African countries, their athletes and what sports they will be competing in:
South Africa: Connor Wilson (Men’s Alpine Skiing)
Eritrea: Shannon Abeda (Men’s Alpine Skiing, Men’s Giant Slalom and Men’s Slalom)
Kenya: Sabrina Simader (Ladies’ Alpine Skiing)
Nigeria: Akuoma Omeoga (Bobsleigh), Moriam Seun Adigun (Bobsleigh) and Simidele Adeagbo (Skeleton)
Morocco: Adam Lamhamedi (Men’s Alpine Skiing) and Samir Azzimani (Men’s Cross-country Skiing)
Ghana: Akwasi Frimpong (Skeleton)
Madagascar: Mialitiana Clerc (Ladies’ Alpine Skiing)
Togo: Alessia Afi Dipol (Ladies’ Alpine Skiing) and Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean (Ladies’ Cross-country Skiing)
4. DStv is airing the Winter Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be aired over four of the SuperSport channels from 9 February. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be shown live on the SS11 (DStv 211) and SS12 (DStv 212) channels, as well as on SS13 (DStv 213) and SS14 (DStv 214), which will start as pop-up channels to take care of the Olympics coverage.
SuperSport 11 has already launched and carries build-up content that features content from previous Olympic Games. SuperSport 11 will air the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday 9 February at 1pm.
All four of these SuperSport channels will also be available on the DStv Now digital platform and the SuperSport website. SuperSport says other events not carried on these four dedicated Olympic Games channels will be shown across various SuperSport channels, space permitting.
Daily highlights of all medal performances and ceremonies, as well as record-breaking performances, will be uploaded on the DStv Catch Up service. In addition, a daily one-hour English highlights package will be available on the Maximo channel on DStv.
Related: DStv Now, Netflix or ShowMax?
5. What will happen at the opening ceremony?
The opening ceremony will take place on Friday 9 February at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, which was built especially for this occasion. It can hold a total of 35 000 people and will only be used for the opening and closing ceremonies. The broadcast of the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be available in more than 200 countries around the world.
The ceremony’s message will centre on peace, with five children from the rural Gangwon Province leading the ceremony, and will include animals, nature and a cast of 2 000 people. Augmented reality and 5G technology will also be featured at the event. Important dignitaries will be attending, including the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the president of Switzerland, Alain Berset.
6. Will Russia compete in the Games following the recent ban?
Following an exposé of a state-supported doping scheme, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Russia from the 2018 Winter Games. However, there will be 169 athletes from Russia competing. They can only compete under strict conditions and under the title ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)’ instead of their flag. Russian Olympic leadership and the flag itself will not be recognised at the Games, as per the conditions from the IOC.
7. What is the official Winter Olympics mascot this year?
As is tradition, each Games has its own mascot to represent the country it’s being hosted in and this year the mascot is an animated white tiger named Soohorang. In Korea, the white tiger is known as the country’s ‘guardian animal’.
The mascot’s name is a combination of a few Korean words meant to represent the Olympics and the mascot. ‘Sooho’ means ‘protection’ in Korean; ‘rang’ comes from the Korean name for tiger, ‘ho-rang-i’, as well as the folk song ‘Jeong-seon A-ri-rang’, the traditional song of Gangwon Province, which is where the Olympics will take place.
8. Where will the next few Olympic Games be held?
The next Winter Olympics, in 2022, will take place in Beijing, which also hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008. The 2020 Summer Olympics will be in Tokyo, the 2024 Summer Olympics will be in Paris and Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics. The host city for the 2026 Winter Olympics has not yet been announced.