Following the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, the 2018 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Pyeonchang in South Korea. The international sports event, whose goal is to unite nations and halt conflicts through sports and celebration, will feature 102 events in 15 different types of winter sports. The 23rd Winter Olympics has a budget of over $10 billion U.S. dollars.
The previous Winter Olympics (Hosted in Sochi, Russia) saw Norway, Canada and the United States on the podium. This year, over 90 countries will be participating in the sports event, with approximately 3000 athletes.
The event will start on the 9th of February 2018 and will last 15 days. The most anticipated event is the opening ceremony, which consists of the Olympic flame being lit up.
Recently, there was controversy over doping issues within the Russian Olympic Federation. Many believe that the ban is unfair as only few of the Russian athletes were guilty of using banned substances.
“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” says Sofya Velikaya, Russian Olympic Commission Chairperson. A solution for the Russian athletes that wish to participate in the event is to participate under a neutral Olympic flag.
While it’s currently not clear whether any Russian Olympians will be able to participate under this neutral Olympic flag, it was recently announced that North Korea will join the competition. This is, of course, also controversial, and the controversy is perpetuated by headlines like “North Korea News Agency Threatens Olympic Pullout After Seoul Praises Trump,” which was published earlier this week.
Controversies aside, there’s a lot to look forward to. Here’s a look at the Winter Olympics’ most popular sporting events:
Alpine skiing or downhill skiing is the most watched sport at the Winter Olympics. In this sport, athletes compete to reach the bottom of the slope in the fastest time possible while following the path indicated by the markers. A total of 11 alpine skiing events will be hosted at this year’s Winter Olympics.
Biathlon is a more complicated and creative sport. This winter sport is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The contestants compete to reach ‘checkpoints’ where they use compressed air rifles to shoot the target. The contestants score points by completing the race faster and having a higher accuracy when shooting.
Figure skating was actually first introduced as a competitive sport in 1908 at the Summer Olympics. Then, in 1924, it became a regular part of the Winter Olympic Games. This year, figure skating will undoubtedly be more popular, with the recent release of “I, Tonya,” a movie about U.S. Olympic skater Tonya Harding. Look out for men’s singles, ladies’ singles, and pair skating.
While a relatively young sport (snowboarding was first included in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan), snowboarding has taken off and has become one of the most watched winter sports, especially among younger viewers. Ten snowboarding events will be held this year in South Korea.