Nigeria’s small contingent was on parade as the 2018 Winter Games kicked off on Friday in the alpine town of PyeongChang, South Korea.
As spectators at the opening ceremony fortified themselves against the cold of the mountainous region with thick coats and blankets, the Nigerian team was simply dazzling in the national colours of green and white.
It was the first time Nigeria will feature in a Winter Olympic.
US-based trio Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere make up Nigeria’s bobsleigh team at the Games, while Simidele Adeagbo will compete in the women’s skeleton. They were all on parade, along with a Nigerian official.
Pyeonchang Olympic is also witnessing a record African attendance.
Kenya, Morocco, Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, Togo, Eritrea have sent nine athletes to compete and become the first African to win a medal, since 1994.
Delegations from USA, Norway also participated at the opening, with the Russians marching under the Olympic flag.
North Korean cheerleaders also joined the opening ceremony, shouting slogans to overcome the chilly wind.
The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will run through Feb. 25 under the slogan, “Passion. Connected.”
South Korea’s state weather agency said temperatures reached minus 2.7 Celsius during the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, located 180 kilometers east of Seoul, which was on par or above what is normal for this time of year. Wind chill hit below minus 8.7 C.
Amid the higher-than-expected temperature, spectators started to fill in the stadium hours before the opening of the show, with the excitement for the country’s first Winter Games overwhelming the chilly weather.
Organizers provided visitors with a package of six items to cope with the freezing weather: a rain coat, a small blanket, a winter cap, heating packs for hands and feet and a heating pad that visitors can sit on. They have also prepared 18 heat shelters and 40 large heaters.
“It is really cold outside here, but it is better than I thought,” said Byeon Da-sol, a 19-year-old who visited the stadium. “I think athletes are going through more harsh weather conditions. I hope they do well in their competitions.”
After the 1994 Winter Games, held in Lillehammer, Norway, considered one of the coldest competitions ever by dropping below minus 10 C, organizers for more recent competitions were concerned about the weather not being cold enough.
The 2010 Winter Games held in Vancouver, Canada, earned a nickname as the first Spring Games due to continuous rain and mild temperatures. The Sochi Winter Olympics, held four years later, was also recorded as one of warmest competitions, with temperatures even reaching 20 C during the day.