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2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea: how to watch and what to expect

The 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony and parade of nations will be held on Friday, February 9.

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2018 Pyeongchang Olympics Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are here.

Every four years, the many countries of the world send their best figure skaters, bobsledders, skiers, snowboarders, curlers, and other winter athletes to compete against the best of the best. This time around, the Winter Olympics are taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

And as always, there will be an opening ceremony featuring a massive spectacle and a parade of nations to officially kick off the games. Pyeongchang’s opening ceremony will be held Friday, February 9.

One of the big storylines heading into the opening ceremony is that the North Korean and South Korean delegations will march together under one flag in the parade of nations. There has long been tension between the two countries, so marching together is a symbolic gesture of unity. But this isn’t the first time the two countries have marched together.

“They have marched together nine times, including in Athens in 2004, carrying a blue-and-white flag representing a united Korea, and at the 2006 Winter Olympics. The two Koreas last marched together in the Asian Winter Games of 2007,” the New York Times reported.

Another thing to watch for is the return of Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua, an Olympic taekwondo star turned Olympic cross-country skier. He made news two years ago during the Summer Olympics in Rio for marching shirtless while serving as Tonga’s flag bearer in the parade of nations. However, Taufatofua has said he’ll be a little more covered up in Pyeongchang, considering the weather.

Song Seung-whan, a Korean actor-producer, is the creative director of the opening ceremony. Though details are scarce about what the show will entail, Reuters reports it will “intertwine Korean history and tradition with aspects of modern culture, such as K-Pop.”

For those planning to watch the festivities from the US, there’s a 14-hour time difference between South Korea and the East Coast, and an 17-hour difference between South Korea and the West Coast. If you’re hoping to witness the opening ceremonies live, you’ll have to get up at 6 am Eastern/3 am Pacific on Friday and log in to NBC online or the NBC app, as NBC is the Olympics official broadcaster.

The network will air a tape-delayed primetime broadcast of the opening ceremony at 8 pm Eastern Friday, with commentary from hosts Katie Couric and Mike Tirico.

How to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony online and on TV

The 2018 Winter Olympics: The 2018 Winter Olympics, a.k.a. the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from Friday, February 9, through Sunday, February 25, 2018. Though the Olympics’ opening ceremony is on February 9, the coverage actually begins one night earlier, on Thursday, February 8, with the figure skating team competition.

Live stream: The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be broadcast by NBC and the NBCUniversal family of networks. (NBCUniversal is one of several investors in Vox Media,’s parent company.) NBC and its networks’ Olympic scheduling can be found on the NBC Olympics website, where NBC will stream the games live in their entirety. The opening ceremony will be broadcast live online on NBC’s website and on its app at 6 am Eastern/3 am Pacific. But to stream the Olympics via the network’s website or app, you’ll need to have a cable or satellite TV subscription login.

There will also be a primetime broadcast of the ceremonies on NBC at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific, hosted by Katie Couric and Mike Tirico. According to the New York Times, NBC’s online coverage of the Olympics will also be available to stream during primetime, which has not been the case in years past. As an alternative to NBC’s apps, you can use an over-the-top device or subscription streaming service that carries NBC — including Fubo, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now.