Even if you don't end up watching many of the sporting events during the 2018 Winter Olympics, keeping up with the Opening Ceremony is an absolute must. You get an insight into the host country's culture, see a complimentary fashion show when the athletes parade in, and may even jog your memory of Olympians from years past. But with a whopping 14-hour time difference between PyeongChang and the United States' East Coast, you'll need to know the exact time that the 2018 Olympics Opening Ceremony is happening.
In South Korea, the Opening Ceremony actually begins at 8 p.m. KST on Friday, Feb. 9, meaning that those livestreaming the event throughout the United States will be up in the early morning hours. If you're as eager of an Olympic fan as NBC contributor and SNL star Leslie Jones and willing to get out of bed, you better have your coffee ready for these wake-up calls. The Opening Ceremony streams live at these times in each American time zone:
- 6 a.m. ET
- 5 a.m. CT
- 4 a.m. MT
- 3 a.m. PT
- 2 a.m. AKST
- 1 a.m. HST
NBC has also announced that, for the first time, it will livestream the Opening Ceremony via NBC.com and the NBC Sports app.
Those unable to wake up early (or stay up late, if you're lucky enough to be in Hawaii right now) can catch the ceremony in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. A fully produced, two-hour Opening Ceremony complete with packages about athletes and Olympic traditions will air then.
Former TODAY anchor Katie Couric and sportscaster Mike Tirico will host the Opening Ceremony for NBC. For the first time in Olympic history, the network will also air live primetime sports coverage across all time zones, helping to prevent social media from spoiling American viewers on competition outcomes.
Couric returns to Opening Ceremony coverage after hosting the event with former co-host Matt Lauer during the Sydney, Salt Lake City, and Athens Olympic Games. Soon after her involvement was announced, she discussed that NBC contributors wouldn't necessarily shy away from covering political protests in PyeongChang that are related to the Olympics:
It’s hard to predict in advance. We never shy away from something that’s newsworthy...[the Games are] a unifying event where political ideology and affiliations are not front and center. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to be apolitical at a time when that’s very difficult to do.
Before the athletes departed for South Korea, Ralph Lauren debuted its Team USA uniforms that the Americans will wear at the Opening Ceremony. This year's uniform set includes a parka with a self-contained heating system, which will definitely come in handy at the open-air PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.
Official events within the Opening Ceremony include the flag raising, the playing of the South Korean national anthem and the Olympic Games theme, lighting the Olympic flame, and the arrival of athletes and coaches. For the first Opening Ceremony since the 2006 Turin Games, North and South Korean athletes will march in together, presumably appearing last among the countries, as the host nation traditionally does. South Korea's cultural presentations will follow these procedures.
A similar schedule will be seen at the Games' Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 25. A notable difference will include the passing of the Olympic flag to the city of Beijing, which is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Although the Games officially kick off on Feb. 9, certain figure skating and freestyle skiing events will occur on Feb. 8.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who grew up in a divided Germany, is hopeful for long-lasting changes to result from the Games, particularly for the Korean people:
In such a situation of a divided country, a part of the population has only seen the country being divided and doesn't have the experience of being one nation. You need to explain and you need to look into the future. You need to put it into perspective of the overall development of the world. You cannot expect 100 percent support from the very beginning.
While a unified Korea at the Olympics may not cause immediate change, it's certainly a step in the right direction. After all, the excitement of the Opening Ceremony, whether or not you're watching in the wee hours of the night, always has the power to bring the world together.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics will air live starting Feb. 8.