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Winter Olympics: Everything you need to know

Although the opening ceremony isn't until Friday, the ...

Posted: Feb. 8, 2018 2:31 PM
Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 2:31 PM

Although the opening ceremony isn't until Friday, the 2018 Winter Olympics are under way, lasting through February 25. Here's a quick guide, including location, new events, venues, how to watch the Games, the mascot and ticket sales. Competitions will be held at 13 venues for the Winter Games. For the first time, TV viewers in all US time zones will have access to live coverage of the Games, instead of a delayed replay.

What city is hosting?

The host city this time is Pyeongchang, South Korea. Opening and closing ceremonies will be housed at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, a temporary structure with capacity for 35,000 spectators.

The city is about 80 miles (125 kilometers) east of Seoul and about 60 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone that separated North and South Korea. A train between Seoul and Pyeongchang takes about 90 minutes. This will be the second Olympic Games held in South Korea. (Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988.)

The estimated cost of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics is $10 billion, five times less than the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which were estimated to be the costliest.

Will North Korea be competing?

The International Olympic Committee announced on January 20, 2018, that North Korea will participate in the Winter Olympics.

North Korea will send 22 athletes who will compete in three sports, according to IOC President Thomas Bach. Athletes from the North and South will also march together under one flag at the opening ceremony for the Games.

For the first time in Olympic history, the two nations will enter a joint women's ice hockey team under the name Korea and represented by the unification flag.

Of the 22 North Korean athletes, 15 will be women and seven will be men, the IOC said. They will be accompanied by 24 coaches and 21 media representatives.

Will Russia be competing?

The short answer, yes. But there is a catch.

Russia was banned in December from taking part in the Games after the IOC found the country had engaged in "systemic manipulation" of anti-doping rules, though Russian athletes who can prove they are clean will be "invited" to compete under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia."

Health concerns

Over 1,000 security guards were replaced with military personnel after a norovirus outbreak at Olympic facilities in Pyeongchang. Organizers said 41 security guards suffered a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea on Sunday and were taken to a hospital.

Health officials on the Korean Peninsula are also battling two strains of influenza. North Korea is facing a potentially deadly strain of seasonal flu and South Korea has reported a highly contagious strain of bird flu (H5N6) in chicken farms near Seoul.

Health officials have not issued travel restrictions or health warnings.

When will the first medals be awarded?

A record 102 medals will be awarded in 15 disciplines. (See the latest medal count.)

The first is expected to be won on Saturday, February 10, early morning Eastern Time, for a cross country skiing event, the women's 7.5km + 7.5 Skiathlon.

Which nation is likely to win the most medals?

With some Russian athletes banned by the IOC in December, the top nation from the 2014 Winter Olympics will be absent from the podium. Using the results from key competitions over the past four years, data company Gracenote is predicting Germany will take home the most medals, followed by Norway and the United States.

What will Team USA be wearing during the opening ceremony?

Ralph Lauren designed Team USA's opening and closing ceremony uniforms for the sixth time. And unique to this year's design is the way wearable technology has been seamlessly integrated. Athletes will remain warm thanks to innovative heat technology incorporated into the design of their parkas and bomber jackets. The jackets went through rigorous testing to make sure they were safe before being worn by Olympians.

When do the Games take place?

Competition for the 2018 Games started on Thursday, February 8 -- with competitions in curling and ski jumping.

Opening ceremonies will take place the next day, Friday, February 9.

Closing ceremonies will be Sunday, February 25.

Other details: The men's ice hockey final will take place on the last day of competition. Luge, ski jumping and biathlon events will take place at night, under floodlights, according to the Games' website.

See more about the schedule here

What's the time difference?

South Korea is 14 hours ahead of New York. It's 15 hours ahead of Chicago. It's 17 hours ahead of Los Angeles. It's nine hours ahead of London.

How to watch

For those in the United States, NBC will broadcast the games on TV and online. In Canada they will be on CBC. In the United Kingdom, fans can watch the Games on BBC TV and digital platforms.

Are there any new events this year?

There are four events added by the International Olympic Committee for 2018.

On the slopes, athletes will now be able to compete in big air snowboarding and freestyle skiing.

On the ice, get ready for mass start speed skating and mixed doubles curling.

Overall, the athletes in Pyeongchang will compete in seven sports -- biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing -- with 15 varied disciplines across all sports.

The competitors each will be hoping to take home at least one of the 102 medals up for grabs.

What do the medals look like?

Created by designer Lee Suk-woo, the medals for these Games feature dynamic diagonal lines and three-dimensional consonants from the Korean alphabet that stretch across the face, according to the official website.

They've been crafted with a texture to resemble tree trunks, symbolizing "the work that has gone into developing Korean culture and the Games themselves," the website said.

Between the bronze, silver and gold medals, the gold weighs the most -- at 586 grams. Overall, 259 sets of medals have been cast for these Games.

Financial hurdles

South Korea has already managed to overcome a few major hurdles, including construction delays, logistical conflicts and lack of enthusiasm from sponsors.

But early ticket sales have been slow.

Organizers are $267 million short of the $2.4 billion budget needed to operate the Games.

Still, previous host cities that faced similar financial issues saw a large increase in ticket sales during the final months leading up to the Games.

What is the mascot?

The 2018 mascot is a white tiger named Soohorang. The tiger is "closely associated with Korean mythology and culture" and is a "familiar figure in Korean folk tales as a symbol of trust, strength and protection," according to the Games website.

Honorary ambassadors

Along with former Olympic figure skater Yuna Kim, honorary ambassadors for these Games include South Korean President Moon Jae-in, former NFL wide receiver Hines Ward and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu.

Another honorary ambassador, South Korean K-pop star Taeyang, is a member of Big Bang, South Korea's biggest boy band. He's also the first K-pop act to be featured on Forbes' prestigious Celebrity 100 list.

Where and when did the first Winter Games take place?

The 2018 Games in Pyeongchang will be the 23rd Winter Olympics. The first Winter Olympics took place in Chamonix, France, in 1924.

Where will future Games be held?

After South Korea, the Winter Games move to Beijing in 2022. You might remember Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008. The next Summer Games will be in Tokyo in 2020, followed by Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.

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