PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics unfurled in frigid temperatures and high spirits on Friday, as athletes from the two Koreas marched into the stadium together less than 50 miles from the heavily-fortified border between their nations, offering hope of a breakthrough in a tense, geopolitical standoff that has stirred fears of nuclear conflict.
The festivities started what organizers say is the largest Winter Olympics yet, with 92 countries participating. The North and South Korean delegations, marching under one flag, embodied the hopes of a peninsula divided by history and ideology.
Whereas recent Olympic Games have sought to set politics to one side, the strategic subtext of the event in Pyeongchang this year has been unavoidable.
Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, was sitting at the opening ceremony closely behind Vice President Mike Pence, who led the American delegation. Also present was the father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who was jailed in North Korea last year, returned home in a coma and died shortly afterward.