Olympics - Opening Ceremony - What a Blast!

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February 10th 2018
Published: February 10th 2018
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Don't jump to conclusions - I didn't go to the Opening Ceremony. We went to a viewing party at the Holland Heineken Hospitality House. I'm not feeling totally well yet but I wasn't going to miss this one. The HHH is one of many hospitality houses from different countries. Some are open to the public, some not. Here's an article about the Hospitality Houses. I apologize for where the photos end up - I have no control over that.

Ken Hanscom

Your guide to everything PyeongChang 2018. Olympics planning, tickets, sponsorship, & experiences. In South Korea Feb. 7–25. Contact: kenh@ticketmanager.com

Jan 15

Olympic Hospitality House List for PyeongChang Winter Games — Ultimate Guide to PyeongChang 2018

Visiting the Olympic hospitality houses are one of the favorite activities for fans and event planners attending any Olympics Games. Many are sponsored and run by countries while others are run by Olympic sponsors such as Visa and Samsung. These hospitality houses operate throughout the games and thousands of fans spend time at them each day. Some fans even make it their goal to visit every one of these houses just for the experience.

The house of each country or sponsor will offer a range of activities and experiences. While every house is different, fan experiences will often include:
Discovering and learning about the culture and everyday life of people who live in that country.Enjoying the native and specialty foods popular in that country.Gathering for event “watch-parties” and celebrations during competitive events, and in some cases, with winning athletes joining later in the day.Special opportunities to meet and greet current athletes and historic legends from previous Olympics.Experience and learn about the latest innovation and products from Olympic Sponsors.A place to relax, re-charge, and meet other Olympic Fans who are also experiencing the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.<li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt: auto; mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto; line-height: normal; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; tab-stops: list .5in;">Retail stores for purchasing Olympic and national team gear and souvenirs.

Another important fact to know is that some hospitality houses like Germany’s and the United States’ Team USA house are closed to the public. These houses only offer access exclusively to Olympic team members, their families & friends, and VIP guests. Other houses like the Canada Olympic House and the perennial fan favorite Holland Heineken House are open to the public, but for a fee.

Before making your plans, it is important to know everything about the Olympic Houses you are planning to visit including where they are located. You may be surprised that most are not inside the Olympic Venues, but spread throughout the Olympic zones.

This list is alphabetical and includes all the known hospitality houses, a description of the house and activities of the house, the hours, and cost if any to visit. This list will be constantly updated as additional houses are added, so bookmark this page and check back often. Note: Many houses will require you passport identification for entry.

Olympic Hospitality Houses:


The Austria House was on of the fan favorites at Rio 2016, and is sure to get high marks from fans again at PyeongChang 2018. Details on public offerings are not available yet, but this page will be updated as they emerge.
Outside area open to the public, free. Entrance to house by accreditation only.
Hours: Public area daily from 10:00am-11:00pm, VIP area open until 1:00am
Website: http://www.austria-house.at/
PyeongChang Cluster. Entrance to YongPyeong Resort near Alpensia. (4–4 Yongsan-ri, Daegwalnyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea)

British House — Team GB

Just announced on February 5th, the programs will include memorabilia, such asOlympic torches from the 1988 Seoul Games and the London 2012 Games, and receptions marking the relationship between the two countries. In addition, events corresponding with the Olympic sporting events will be occurring.
Availability: TBD
Hours: TBD
Website: Not available, yet.
Location: Ambassador Charles Hay’s Residence in Seoul

Canada Olympic House:

For the first time ever, the Canada Olympic House will be open to the public and being located only 350M from the spectator entrance at the Gangneung Olympic Park, it is certain to be a popular gathering place at PyeongChang 2018. Activities include watching Canadians compete, Canadian food & beverage, Team Canada store, Ticket Collection, and Athlete Celebrations.
Availability: Open to the public, $25/day.
Hours: 11:00am-11:00pm
Website: https://canadaolympichouse.ca/
Location: Gangneung Olympic Park (just outside). 387–3, Gyo-dong, Gangneung, South Korea

Czech Republic — Czech House

The Czech House in Korea should be the biggest one in the history of the Winter Olympic Games. The Czech house will consist of two floors, one of those will be open to the public. Following the example of the previous years, the fans will have the chance to meet the Olympic athletes and to watch the biggest moments on large screens. Once again, Czech beer (Pislner Urqell) and Czech food will be served.
Availability: Open to the public
Hours: Daily, 11:00am starting Feb 10. Feb 9, 1:00PM public opening party
Website: http://www.olympic.cz/ceskydum/en/ (daily schedule available)
Location: 1019–1, Hongje-dong, Gangneung, Opposite of the Olympic Athletes Village

France House — Club France:
For the French delegation at the Winter Olympic Games, details are still forthcoming, but will include a shop with some public access including a Lacoste store.
TBD, public for retail store.
Locations: PyeongChang, Daegwallyong, Olympic Park Mountain (address not available yet.

Germany House:
Embassy office in the grounds of the German House Pyeongchang 2018
German House at the 2018 Olympic Games. The base station for the German sports family and their guests from the media, business and politics will also be the German House in Pyeongchang
Availability: Closed to public, option through Korean-German Chamber of Commerce. $450 USD / day and includes Biathlon relay. (http://korea.ahk.de/events/events-single-view/events/kgcci-pyeongchang-winter-olympics-2018/?cHash=84ddba274015b7b168cf960c330de104)
Hours: Unknown
Website: Unknown
Location: PyeongChang, Yongpyong, Birch Hill Golf Club

Holland Heineken House:

The Holland Heineken House is the hottest ticket in town for the Olympic Games and represents 24 years of Heineken’s commitment/support to the NOC*NSF. It is the place for athletes, their families and fans to experience sports, celebrate the successes of Team NL and legendary Olympic moments. The Holland Heineken House is known as a “can’t miss” experience for any Olympic fan or tourist. A unique atmosphere offering a restaurant (reservations required) and a party-like atmosphere that turns into a club late at night, this house also has huge screens to watch the days events. In addition, the Holland Heineken House is the only Olympic House where you are guaranteed to see the days medal winners from the Netherlands make an appearance in a special ceremony each night.

Special event: Holland Heineken House is offering the opportunity for fans to stay overnight for only 32,500 KRW (approximately €25). That’s a major deal by Olympic standards for your own private room and bar after enjoying the festivities of the day! Through their partnership with Booking.com, inventory for the Winter Games period will be available each day at 9AM GMT January 23–27. https://www.booking.com/hotel/kr/hhh.html

Availability: Open to the public, Euro 12.50/day. (free on February 9th, but requires ticket)
Hours: 3:00PM, daily
Website: https://www.hollandheinekenhouse.nl/
Location: Gangneung cluster. 536, Haean-ro, Gangneung-sim Ganwon-Do, South Korea

Heineken House

Italy House — Casa Italia:

The Casa Italia is for the Italian delegation at the Winter Olympic Games. This is a unique context, where nature meets innovation and dreams encounter reality. Casa Italia is the base station for the Italian sports family and their guests from media and business, politics, corporate partners and stakeholders during the Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018. Casa Italia has big screens for competition watching and restaurant with Italian food. Featuring celebrations of the medals won by Italian athletes, food & beverage, and daily activities, Casa Italia is by invitation only. While generally private, some days and nights the house will open to invited guests and fans of Italy.
Availability: Only to Olympic Athletes, their families and friends, Olympic Family
Hours: 10am-12pm, daily
Website: http://www.pyeongchang2018.coni.it/en/home-english/casa-italia-inglese.html
Location: PyeongChang, Yongpyong, YongPyong Golf Club House

Japan House — Tokyo 2020:
Introduction to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games. Includes: Tokyo Traveler, new sports in the 2020 Summer Games, Intro to Tokyo, Japanese culture experiences, Tokyo 2020 initiatives, national team uniforms, and photo opportunities.
Availability: Open to the public, inside Gangneung Olympic Park which requires a ticket for the day to access.
Hours: Same as Gangneung Olympic Park
Website: https://tokyo2020.jp/en/special/pyeongchang-to-tokyo/japanhouse/
Location: Gangneung, inside Gangneung Olympic Park

Korea House — PyeongChang 2018 Hall:
Promotional hall for the Korean Olympic Committee.
Availability: Open to the public, inside Gangneung Olympic Park which requires a ticket for the day to access.
Hours: Same as Gangneung Olympic Park
Website: https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/spectator-guide/gangneung-olympic-park
Location: Gangneung, inside Gangneung Olympic Park

Proctor & Gamble House (P&G Family Home):
Procter & Gamble provide our athletes and their friends and family with an exceptional experience during the Olympic Games through their hospitality venue, the P&G Family Home.
Availability: Only to Olympic Athletes, their families and friends.
Hours: TBD
Website: https://www.teamusa.org/2018-Friends-And-Family/Olympic-Winter-Games-PyeongChang-2018/Procter-And-Gamble-Family-Home
Location: PyeongChang, Yongpyong, Dragon Valley Hotel

Russia Olympic ‘Fans House’ — Sports House
Availability: TBD
Hours: TBD
Website: TBD
Location: Aqua Wedding Hall, Gangneung Beach Front, near Gangneung Olympic Park, Address not available yet.

Slovenia Olympic House — Slovenska Hisa:

Exhibition stand type, presentation of the Slovenian country, economy, tourism, culture and sport to various stakeholders at the Winter Olympic Games.
Availability: Open to the public, free, except for the scheduled events (TBD on the webpage)
Hours: 10am — 10pm
Website: http://www.slovenska-hisa.org/
Location: PyeongChang, Yongpyong, Peak Island Water Park

Slovenia Olympic House located at Peak Island
Our groupOur groupOur group

Tatjiana (Team Netherlands), Stephanie (Team Kakastan), Sabria (Team France), & me (TeamUSA).
in the Yongpyong Resort, PyeongChang.

Sweden House — Sweden Arena:

Sweden Arena is for Swedish Olympians, their families, corporate partners, Swedish fans and fans of Sweden during the Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018. While generally private, some days and nights the house will open to invited guests and fans of Sweden to participate in sing-along-nights, table hockey tournaments, Olympic Quiz nights, lectures and meet-and-greets. Also, there will be outdoor winter activities open to the public, as well as Swedish food and drinks.
Availability: Only to Olympic Athletes, their families and friends. The house will be opened some days and nights to the public, to fans and friends.
Hours: TBD for public events.
Website: http://www.swedenarena.com
Location: PyeongChang, Yongpyong, Dragon Valley Hotel (Nations Village)

Switzerland — House of Switzerland:

Open to all members of the public the House of Switzerland has big screens for competition watching, Swiss restaurant, two shops, and an outdoor Swiss market. Located in the heart of YongPyong resort, there are celebrations of the medals won by Swiss athletes, opportunities for souvenir photos, and a chance to target shoot at goals on an ice rink. There is even the possibility to rent skis or arrange for Ski or Snowboarding lessons with Swiss officials! The House of Switzerland will also have events that include concerts, parties with DJs and a proper Swiss Apres Ski Bar!
Availability: Open to the public, free.
Hours: Feb 7 — Feb 25th, 10am — 11pm
Website: http://houseofswitzerland.org/events/pyeongchang-2018-house-switzerland
Location: PyeongChang, Yongpyong, Nations Village

United States — Team USA House:
For the first time, the Team USA House will not have a Team USA retail store at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. Fans hoping to go and purchase Team USA gear at the Team USA house for this Winter Olympics should plan to purchase their support items before they leave for South Korea. The Team USA House is a hospitality house for Team USA, friends & family, corporate sponsors, and VIPs. Featuring food, beverage, and daily activities — the Team USA House is by invitation only.
Availability: Exclusive, invitation only, $300/day
Hours: 10am-1am
Website: N/A
Location: PyeongChang, YongPyong Resort, Behind Dragon Valley Hotel

Catching a taxi to the HHH was tough because everyone was out and the traffic was terrible. Sabria, Stephanie, & I made it there about 19:20 and joined Tatjiana & our other friends. Heineken beer on tap and so many international people there. We watched on a big screen and cheered as each team entered the stadium. Really big cheers for Nigeria & Tonga! It was so wonderful to be part of this event. After the ceremony was over the DJ started the music and we danced like crazy. The games have begun!

Here's an article from the New York Times:

Winter Olympics 2018 Opening Ceremony: Yuna Kim Lights the Torch

Figure skater Yuna Kim lit the torch. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The crowning moment of any opening ceremony: the final leg of the torch relay and the lighting of the Olympic caldron. Inbee Park, the golfer, is one of the final torchbearers. Two members of the mixed North and South Korean women’s hockey team, Chung Su-hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea, carry the torch up the stairs. And the hero chosen for the highest of Olympic honors is ... Yuna Kim, the profoundly popular figure skater who won the gold medal in 2010 and the silver medal in 2014. She is a beloved celebrity in South Korea and often referred to as “Queen Yuna.

The South Korean president Moon Jae-in watched from the stands near Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Unified Korean team hears cheers, but not from all.

A unified Korean team of athletes marched out together carrying the unification flag as the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, watched from the stands near Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader.

The Olympics may have renewed hopes of a unified Korea for some, but attitudes about becoming a single nation again have shifted since the last time South Korea hosted an Olympics, the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. In general, younger South Koreans are less favorable of reintegrating with the impoverished North. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of South Koreans in their 20s were against reunification. They are more interested in domestic issues, like unemployment, and some feel that reuniting the peninsula would be burdensome for the South.

The cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua of Tonga marching shirtless into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Tongan flag-bearer steals the show ... again.

The one-man Tongan team is cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua. He caused a stir at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he was a taekwondo athlete, by carrying the flag shirtless and greased up. And for these frigid Winter Games ... he has done it again. A startling, and perhaps foolhardy display given the weather, but the crowd absolutely roared as he made his way through the stadium. Nobody received a better reception here than Taufatofua.

The athletes from Russia carrying the Olympic flag. Russia failed in overturning a ban against 47 athletes and coaches from participating in the Games because of a doping scandal. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

No Russian flag in the parade of nations.

The Olympic flag, lifted by a volunteer instead of an athlete, is carried ahead of the Russian team. Or more precisely, the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The absence of the Russian flag is part of the punishment for Russia’s state-backed doping program at the Olympics four years ago. But the Russians still have a robust team of more than 160.

Viktor Ahn misses his chance at a heroic homecoming.

Missing from the group of athletes from Russia was Viktor Ahn, a short track speed skater of South Korean descent. He was among the athletes barred from competing in the Pyeongchang Games. Competing here would have been significant for his career. He was one of South Korea’s best skaters and won his first three Olympic golds while competing for South Korea. But after a bitter falling out with South Korean sports officials, Ahn switched his allegiance to Russia.

Team USA walking out to the song “Gangnam Style” by the South Korean musician Psy. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Team USA walks out to “Gangnam Style.”

Vice President Mike Pence waves at the huge American contingent — at 242 it is the largest ever for any country at any Winter Games. The U.S. also got the chance to walk out to “Gangnam Style,” by far the most successful Korean pop song ever.

Two-time gold medalist Shani Davis skips opening ceremony.

Not everyone was pleased with the selection of Erin Hamlin as the United States’ flag bearer.

In a tweet sent Thursday night, Shani Davis, a four-time medalist in speed skating, said that the United States Olympic Committee had “dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer.”

And on Friday, he was a no-show in the Olympic Stadium for the parade of athletes.

In a vote of American team representatives this week, Hamlin and Davis had received four votes apiece. A coin flip was used as a tiebreaker, and Hamlin won.

“No problem,” Davis added in the tweet. “I can wait until 2022.”

Davis, competing at his fifth and presumably final Games, added the hashtag, “#BlackHistoryMonth2018.”

Davis did not appear with the rest of the U.S. long track team at its press conference on Thursday afternoon.

That seemed to be a running theme of these Games so far. For instance, Brian Hansen, one of Davis’ teammates, tweeted out two group photos of the team on Thursday, and Davis was missing from both.

Impersonators draw a crowd during parade.

There was some commotion in one section of the stadium midway through the parade of athletes when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un — or, rather, impersonators of them — appeared near the bottom row of stands.

There was the famous red baseball cap and red power tie. There was the famous fade haircut.

Spectators and members of the news media rushed down to snap photographs of the fake Trump and Kim, who were happy to ham it up for the cameras.

Eventually a crew of perturbed-looking ushers came down and broke up the crowd, forcing the pair to leave the stands.

The Trump look-alike seemed a bit flustered as he worked his way up the steps. The Kim look-alike could be heard telling him in English, “Walk slowly.”

They ducked into a concourse, a pack of journalists in their wake.

The parade of nations follows the Korean alphabet.

The backbone of any opening ceremony is the parade of nations. While there are always a diversity of outfits and glimpses of athletic stars, its sheer length can test even the most geographically fascinated fan. Tonight’s is scheduled to run for nearly an hour. The athletes are coming out alphabetically, so why are Norway and Netherlands near the front? Because it’s alphabetically by the countries’ names in Korean. Unless that’s one of your fluent languages, this method will provide a dash of the unexpected. (Timor-Leste just followed Germany.)

Drummers performing during the ceremony. Temperatures dipped to around 28 degrees as fans started to enter the stadium an hour before the event. Credit James Hill for The New York Times

A slight change in the program.

With the North Koreans deciding just a month before the start of the Winter Games to send a delegation, there was little time to adjust the opening ceremony show. Five hours before the start of the opening ceremony, Song Seung-whan, a South Korean actor and popular theatrical producer who directed the show, said that he had only tinkered with one segment of it to reflect North Korea’s presence. (He would not offer any spoiler alerts.)

Looking relaxed in a black turtleneck sweater and jeans, Mr. Song said that his biggest concern in the run-up to the ceremony was the cold. “We had to develop many contingency plans just in case the weather went bad,” he said. A few days ago, when temperatures plunged below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, dancers were given spikes for their shoes to ensure that they could dance
Handing off torchHanding off torchHanding off torch

Two Korean hockey players, one from North, one from South, hand off the torch to figure skater Yuna Kim.
in icy conditions. Mr. Song said that engineers were also concerned that the hundreds of electronic devices being deployed for the ceremony might not work in the freezing temperatures but “we tested them at the rehearsal and they were fine.”

As it turns out, the weather on Friday night was practically balmy, expected to fall only to about 28 degrees.

Mr. Song said he struggled to keep the show, which features 1,300 performers and another 700 volunteers in one scene, within a “very limited budget.” He declined to say what that budget was, but noted with a laugh: “It was far less than Beijing.”

Thomas Bach, gold medalist, opens the Games.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, makes his appearance. As always, he is introduced as a “gold medal winner” (he won a fencing medal in 1976).

Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is also in attendance, together with the North’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea shook hands with Ms. Kim briefly.

North Koreans sang and waved the unified flag before the opening ceremony. Credit James Hill for The New York Times

Performers blanketed Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, which will be demolished after the Games. Credit James Hill for The New York Times

Let the ceremony begin.

The 2018 Winter Games opening ceremony has begun. There are several unusual things about the site for the ceremony, Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. First off, it’s small. Seating 35,000, it is dwarfed by the likes of the Maracana (78,000) which played host in 2016. Second, it’s just for the ceremony, not any athletic events. Third, it’s temporary. It will be demolished after the Games. And lastly it is an unusual shape, a pentagon. Look for some other “5” symbolism in tonight’s show.

It’s cold, but everybody’s prepared.

The forecasts were true: It’s pretty cold here.

Temperatures dipped to around 28 degrees as fans started to enter the stadium an hour before the ceremony, and steady winds made it feel far chillier than that.

Reports emerged during the week that scores of spectators attending a rehearsal last Saturday ended up leaving early because of the extreme cold. But several fans outside the stadium on Friday declared themselves ready to face the chill.

“I’m from Buffalo,” said Mary Salvador, who had traveled from New York to join a group of Korean adoptees from around the United States. Moment earlier, she had pulled on a pair of dark ski pants. Pulling hand warmers from her pocket, she added, “You need these. We’ve been using these all week.”

The ceremonies at the previous two Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia and Vancouver, British Columbia were indoors, and cold temperatures were not an issue at those Games, anyway.

Organizers here were proactive addressing the weather. Each attendee at the stadium received a package that included hand and foot warmers, a wool hat, a poncho, a blanket and a heated seat cushion.

“Just wear layers and layers to protect yourself from the wind,” said Lauri Leppanen, 38, who was visiting from Turku, Finland, with his partner, Sanna Saarinen, 35. “I’m wearing merino wool, which is pretty cozy.”

This is NOT cold. It's 30 degrees! Last week it never got above 18!

Till next time.


Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23



Me, Megan from New Zealand & Jenny from Vancouver.

10th February 2018

party time!
Glad you are feeling better. Looks like you and your new friends and roomies had a good time - yumm - Heineken beer!

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