February 23, 2018
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Olympic flame arrives in S. Korea for 2018 Winter Games

The Olympic flame arrives at the Incheon International airport in Incheon November 1, 2017. — Reuters picThe Olympic flame arrives at the Incheon International airport in Incheon November 1, 2017. — Reuters pic

INCHEON, Nov 1 — The Olympic flame arrived in South Korea today to begin its journey towards the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, with organisers confident it will spark a new era for winter sports in Asia.

South Korean sports minister Do Jong-hwan and 2010 Vancouver Games figure skating champion Kim Yuna carried the flame in a special lantern off a Korean Air flight from Greece after it was handed over to 2018 organisers at a ceremony yesterday.

Figure skater Kim and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon then lit a cauldron with the Olympic flame, which was last seen in South Korea almost 30 years ago during the 1988 Seoul Summer Games.

Organising chief Lee Hee-beom described it as “a very significant moment in history” for Korea and promised athletes and sports fans coming to Pyeongchang “the time of their lives”.

“The wait is over for South Korea. We are now 100 days to the Olympic Games,” he told reporters at a ceremony at Incheon airport.

“The Olympic Games and the Olympic flame are symbols of hope and peace. The Games have the power to bring the world together.”

In a nod to the year of the Games, the torch relay will cover 2,018 kilometres through nine provinces, eight major cities, and more than 150 counties and districts before it winds up at its destination in Pyeongchang, some 180 kilometres east of the capital Seoul.

The Games kick off on Feb. 9 and will feature approximately 3,000 athletes from 95 NOCs, though there has been no confirmation whether North Korea plan to take part.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated in recent months due to the North’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as the threats and insults exchanged between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. — Reuters

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