SEOUL – The International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, participated on Friday in the Olympic torch relay, hours ahead of the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Bach, a former fencing champion, carried the torch on the last day of the relay, covering the route between the International Broadcasting Center and the Main Press Center in the Alpensia ski resort in PyeongChang.
“I do the torch relay now for the seventh time, but every time it’s like a first time. It’s a very special and emotional moment,” Bach said as reported by Yonhap news agency.
Bach received the Olympic flame from the Head of PyeongChang’s Olympic organizing committee, Lee Hee-beom, and carried it for 200 meters before handing it over to the United Nations General Assembly’s current President, Miroslav Lajcak.
The Games, whose opening ceremony takes place at 8:00 pm local time Friday, are kicking off amid increased political attention surrounding the participation of North Korean athletes and the potential of improved ties on the Korean peninsula.
Both countries are set to march under a unified Korean flag at the opening ceremony, for which Pyongyang has sent its honorary president, Kim Yong-nam, Pyongyang’s highest-ranking official to visit the South, and leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, marking the first visit of a member of the Kim dynasty to the South.
PyeongChang 2018 is the first Winter Olympic Games to be hosted by South Korea, which also hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988.