Opening Ceremony Top Moments: Shirtless Flagbearer, Trump Impersonator and More - NBC Bay Area
The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang

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Opening Ceremony Top Moments: Shirtless Flagbearer, Trump Impersonator and More

Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua wore only a grass skirt and necklace, his torso covered in oil, despite the midwinter cold

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    The Winter Olympics got off to an official start with an opening ceremony meant to tell the story not of North or South Korea but of the Korean peninsula as a whole.

    Here are some key moments of the celebration featuring Korean pop songs, enthusiastic athletes and flashes of politics:

    SHIRTLESS IN SOUTH KOREA
    He said he wouldn't, but he did.

    Pita Taufatofua, the Olympic athlete from Tonga whose shirtless entrance into the Rio Olympics made him an instant star, capped off an improbable trip to the Winter Olympics with another shirtless moment.

    The taekwondo athlete turned cross-country skier had said in a Pyeongchang 2018 news release that he would be bundling up for the opening ceremony: "I want to still be alive for my race. It's going to be freezing, so I will be keeping nice and warm."

    But when Tonga's turn came at the parade of nations, there was Taufatofua wearing only a grass skirt and necklace, his torso covered in oil, despite the midwinter cold.

    "I won't freeze. I am from Tonga. We sailed across the Pacific. This is nothing," he told the Olympic news service, according to The Associated Press. "It's a little bit warmer being in Rio than in here ... but anytime you get to represent your country is a good time."

    Opening Ceremony in Photos: Flags, Fireworks, Tiger PuppetOpening Ceremony in Photos: Flags, Fireworks, Tiger Puppet

    Taufatofua is the second Tongan at a Winter Olympics, following luger Bruno Banani's appearance at the Sochi Games in 2014.


    KOREAS, BRIEFLY UNIFIED
    In a historic show of unity, the younger sister of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, shook hands with the South Korean president Moon Jae-in as they watched the celebration.

    But when the unified Korean team entered the Olympic stadium under one flag, everyone in the VIP box stood except U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, Washington Post reporter Ann Fifield tweeted.

    Elsewhere in the Olympic Stadium, impersonators of President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un stood side by side, generating plenty of buzz online before they were reportedly ushered out.


    ALPHABETICAL ORDER
    Greece, in keeping with Olympic tradition because it hosted the first modern Games in 1896, began the parade of athletes into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.

    It was followed by Ghana — whose flagbearer stopped to do a little shimmy — and Nigeria, an order that might have been confusing for some. But the order of the nations is determined by the alphabet of the host nation.

    The athletes and were welcomed by cheerleaders wearing hats depicting the Pyeongchang Games’ mascot, the white tiger Soohorang.

    BERMUDA IN SHORTS
    Pita Taufatofua wasn't the only athlete sporting clothes more suitable for the summer: the Bermuda contingent appeared in traditional shorts and blazers.

    Flag bearer Tucker Murphy of Bermuda and teammates enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on Feb. 9, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
    Photo credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

    The CIA, tweeting along with the ceremony, asked what feature of the Bermuda flag is unique: a beach, a sinking ship, shorts or a pirate. Answer: Not the shorts but the sinking of the Sea Venture in 1609.

    A NEW LOOK FOR RUSSIA
    Among all of the national colors, Russian athletes stood out for their drab grey-and-white uniforms. The 160 or so athletes are competing not as an official delegation but as "Olympic Athletes from Russia."

    Russia is being punished for manipulating anti-doping regulations and is banned from the Pyeongchang Games.

    A PLEA FOR PEACE
    Carrying on the theme of peace, the ceremony brought images of doves lit up on the floor of the stadium as Korean stars sang John Lennon’s “Imagine,” with its final lyrics of “I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one.”

    CAULDRON-LIGHTING SURPRISE
    The identity of the person who lights the Olympic cauldron is a closely guarded secret, but as the ceremony came to a close, Yuna Kim, a gold medal-winning figure skater, took her place atop the Olympic Stadium and received the torch from hockey players from the joint Korean team.

    Kim won the gold medal at the Vancouver Games in 2010, setting a world record performance and becoming the first female figure skater from South Korea to win Olympic gold.

    She was favored to repeat as champion in Sochi, but lost to Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova in controversial fashion — she got a hug from a Russian judge after one of her performances. The International Skating Union rejected complaints from South Korea's skating federation that outcome was "unjust" after an investigation.

    Kim retired from figure skating after stepping off the podium in Sochi but has served as an ambassador for the Pyeongchang Games.

    Photo credit: NBC