Sub-zero temperatures mean many athletes will be making only fleeting appearances at Friday’s opening ceremony to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, but the International Olympic Committee anticipates a spectator sellout.
The overnight temperature on Tuesday into Wednesday was forecast to be -21C, with a warmer spell anticipated in time for Friday’s extravaganza at the 35,000-capacity Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium and temperatures rising to close on 0C.
Pyeongchang, on the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula, is exposed to winds from the Manchurian Plain and Siberia, which bring the temperature down further.
Christophe Dubi, the IOC executive director, on Tuesday said 77 per cent of tickets had been sold for all events and 3,000 tickets remained for Friday’s opening ceremony.
“Sales are stronger by the day. This is reassuring,” Dubi said. “We should have a packed audience on Friday evening and also during the competitions, which is very good news.”
IOC spokesman Mark Adams added: “Four or five days ago we were selling 4,000 a day. We were up to 10,000 a day yesterday (Monday), I believe.”
POCOG, the local organising committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, have built a warm tent to ensure the athletes do not have to be exposed to the elements for longer than necessary.
“Athletes will also be able to leave earlier,” Dubi added.
Spectators will be advised to wrap up warm and will be given packs to help.
“In the stadium, for all of us in the audience, there will be a little kit, with hand warmers, there will be hats,” Dubi added. “The athletes will also have the same kit.”
Taufatofua, who marched in the Maracana in traditional dress, a ta’ovala, and lathered in oil, said: “I want to still be alive for my race. It’s going to be freezing, so I will be keeping nice and warm,” Taufatofua said.