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Tue 22nd May, 2018
 

Princess Anne attends Winter Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang

Princess Anne has attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in her capacity as President of the British Olympic Committee and Member of the International Olympic Committee.

The Princess Royal began her visit to the Far East on 4th February.

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Temperatures dropped to -5C in the stadium as the ceremony entitled Peace in Motion got under way on Friday 9th February. Athletes and officials from 92 participating nations marched into the stadium under their national flags.

Team GB were led by Gold medal skeleton racer Lizzy Yarnold who proudly held the Union Flag aloft, smiling broadly and waving to the cheering spectators.

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Joining The Princess Royal in the stands were dignitaries and leaders from a host of nations, including US Vice-President Mike Pence, and the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong.

Other Royals at the sporting event include Prince Albert of Monaco, also a former Olympian in the , Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark; however, the heir to the Danish throne left earlier on Friday when his father’s condition in hospital worsened.

46 athletes and officials from North Korea are participating in the Games under a united Korean team with the women’s ice hockey team fielding players from both sides of the divide.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the opening ceremony and the Games as a whole showed “the unique power of sport to unite people”.

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Acknowledging the steps taken by the Koreans to demonstrate some unity goodwill during the Games, Mr Bach said that they: “send a powerful message of peace to the world”.

“All the athletes around me, all the spectators here in the stadium and all Olympic fans watching around the world, we are all touched by this wonderful gesture,” he said. “We all join and support you in your message of peace. United in our diversity, we are stronger than all the forces that want to divide us.”

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However, British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson said it was premature to suggest the Games could heal the rift between the North and South. He said: “You want to be careful of over-claiming about this. It’s great that for the Games that there has been this rapprochement. But people watch sport for great sporting moments not because of what it’s contributing to international diplomacy.”

The Princess Royal, herself a former Olympian who was part of the equestrian three day event team at the Montreal Summer Olympics in 1976, has sat on the International Olympic Committee’s Members Election Committee since 2015.

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