Follow Sports Mole's live coverage of the opening ceremony for the 2018 edition of the Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The world's biggest and greatest winter sport event - the Winter Olympics - has officially got underway with a lavish opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Over the next two weeks we'll see almost 3,000 athletes from 92 nations (plus Russia!) competing for glory in 102 events.
While the action had already got underway in a handful of events, the Games officially opened today with the pomp, procession and flags of the opening ceremony - relive every moment below with Sports Mole's live blog.
Good morning and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Over the next fortnight we'll see the world's finest winter sports athletes do their thing, and for our part, we'll all become instant experts on sports we know next to nothing about.
It's just turned 7pm in South Korea, which means we're now one hour away from the start of the ceremony.
There are 15 sports on the programme for the Winter Olympics, everything from ice hockey to curling and snowboarding - and of course, everyone's favourite, the bobsleigh. There is a record number of medals on offer in Pyeongchang - 102 - including new disciplines such as mixed doubles in the curling, mixed team alpine skiing, "mass start" speed skating and "big air" snowboarding.
Some 93 countries will compete in Pyeongchang, including six debutants: Malaysia, Nigeria, Kosovo, Ecuador, Eritrea and Singapore. Russia have been banned from competing under the Russian flag due to the doping controversy (more on that later) but Russian athletes will still be able to compete under a flag called "Olympic Athletes from Russia". I say potato, you say Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Pyeongchang is located in the northern reaches of South Korea, about 110 miles away from the capital Seoul. Around 85% of Pyeongchang is mountain and the average temperature at this time of year is -5.5C, making it a perfect location to host the Winter Olympics. South Korea has previously hosted the summer Olympics once, when Seoul had the honour in 1988.
According to the most recent estimate five years ago, Pyeongchang has a population of just under 44,000 when Olympians aren't in town, a density of just 80 people for every square mile.
South Korea has spared no expense in staging this event, splashing out an estimated £9.3 billion on getting Pyeongchang ready. That's actually down on the £16 billion plus Russia spent on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, having originally budgeted a mere £3.5 billion.
Most of the money this time around has gone on building six new venues to host events, which will be split between the mountain ski resort of Alpensia for the outdoor events and the coastal city of Gangneung for the indoor events.
Last month North Korea made the shock announcement that it would be sending athletes to participate in the Games, and in a further twist it was agreed that athletes from both North Korea and South Korea will compete under the same flag.
The North's participation has raised eyebrows for obvious reasons - they have a nuclear-button-wielding madman in charge. Countries around the world have warned South Korea to be wary of a "charm offensive" by Kim Jong-un, who is accused of using his country's involvement in the Winter Olympics as a tool to irritate his megalomaniacal counterpart in the US, Donald Trump.
Sales of toilet paper have no doubt boomed in South Korea over the last week after it emerged that there has been a major outbreak of Norovirus among security staff. Norovirus is a highly-contagious bug with highly-embarrassing effects: the infected can look forward to extended bouts of projectile vomiting and projectile defecation.
Around 1,200 members of security staff were quarantined as a result and, as of yesterday, some 128 of them had been confirmed as suffering from Norovirus. No athletes have yet been reported as suffering from Norovirus, so in theory the quick quarantine has worked.
The temperature in Pyeongchang has also been of concern in the run-up to the Games, with some athletes even taking the decision to skip today's opening ceremony because it's too chilly. Current forecasts suggest that we will have an average temperature of -7C in the arena.
All of those attending the ceremony will be provided with a windbreaker, lap blanket, knitted cap, as well as a heated seat cushion and hand and feet warmers. Sounds bliss, actually.
Let's talk about deforestation! No, come back, please - I'll be brief. Pretty much every major sporting event comes in for some criticism for its impact on the environment and Pyeongchang is no exception. Specifically, the construction of the Jeongseon Alpine Centre sparked outrage from environmental groups after deforestation was required on the slopes of the Gariwang mountain. South Korea have pledged to restore the forest after the Games, but opponents have pointed out that old and ancient trees cannot be restored. Fair point.
As I mentioned earlier, Russia has been banned from competing at the Winter Olympics after it emerged that the country had engaged in state-sponsored doping when they hosted the 2014 edition in Sochi. A number of medals were stripped from Russia as a result but they still topped the final medals table - so you can see why they are keen to participate.
The issue of whether they can officially compete went right down to the wire - only today has the verdict of the final appeal been delivered, and it's a no-no. Some 169 Russian athletes have been allowed to compete but they must refer to themselves as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" and must march today under the Olympic flag. If any of them medal, the Olympic Anthem (always a favourite) will be played instead of the Russian one. Meanwhile, somewhere in Moscow, big Vlad Putin will be throwing caviar and blinis at his TV screen.
Russia was indeed the top nation in the Sochi 2014 medal table, with an eventual total - after all of the medal-stripping and subsequent appeals - of 29 medals, including 11 golds. Norway were hot on the Russians' heels with 26 medals - also 11 gold, followed by Canada on 25 (10G) and the USA on 28 (9G).
Team GB managed just four medals overall for 19th place in the medals table, taking home one gold, one silver and two bronzes. While a paltry haul in comparison to the likes of Russia and Norway, it did still represent GB's joint-best ever showing at a Winter Olympics, matching the tally from 90 years earlier at our debut in Chamonix, France.
That one gold went to Lizzy Yarnold, who absolutely killed it in the women's skeleton event. It's a particularly profitable event for Team GB, as we've now picked up a medal in the last four Winter Olympics. Lizzy is competing again this year and should she take top honours once more, she will become the first ever Briton to retain their gold medal at a Winter Olympics. Here's a reminder of her winning performance from four years ago:
Lizzy's first job of the Games will be to lead out Team GB at today's opening ceremony as flagbearer. We have a 58-strong delegation of athletes competing in Pyeongchang, most of whom will be in attendance today.
Speaking of her flag-swishing honour, Yarnold said this week: "My first reaction when I was asked to be Flagbearer was complete excitement and I'm really proud to march in front of the whole team. There are so many talented athletes competing here for Team GB at this Olympic Games and hopefully this can be the start of our most successful ever Winter Olympics."
Big words, Lizzy, but the experts disagree with you. Team GB have had record funding to prepare for the Winter Olympics and have been set a target of between four and ten medals, but data specialist firm Gracenote has predicted we'll walk away with just two. They apparently have no faith in Lizzy whatsoever and don't expect her to medal, let alone retain gold, with our two projected medals - one silver, one bronze - coming in the speed skating.
One person who has been denied the chance to not win a medal is GB snowboarder Katie Ormerod, who was sadly ruled out on the eve of the Games. The gods seemed to have it in for poor Katie, who first suffered a broken wrist earlier this week before being further blighted with a broken foot in training for the slopestyle event.
One big hope for Team GB this time comes with Elise Christie, who will be participating in the aforementioned speed skating. Elise is a triple world champion and in 2016 set a new world record of 42.335 seconds in the 500m, so she's in good form.
At Sochi 2014, Elise was disqualified from her three events after being accused of deliberately causing the Korean favourite to crash. As a result she received thousands of abusive messages on social media, including death threats, so she won't be expecting a particularly warm reception from the home crowd this time.
Eve Muirhead is also expected to provide a challenge for the podium in Pyeongchang. The captain of the women's curling team is a defending bronze medallist but has hopes of matching GB's gold-medal triumph over Switzerland in 2002. Eve is apparently also an "elite bagpipe player" so is bound to be providing the entertainment back at camp.
With an outside chance of medalling for GB is Billy Morgan, who participates in the slopestyle competition and is renowned for his showboating. Billy finished 10th in Sochi but the introduction of the new "big air" event could be his ticket to glory.
Cool Runnings is so last century. One of the most anticipated moments of the 2018 Games is the debut of the Nigerian bobsleigh team. The three-strong all-female team are hoping to make history in their country's debut appearance at a Winter Olympics and have said they "feel honoured" to be compared to the Jamaican legends from 30 years ago.
Norway come into the Winter Olympics as one of the fiercest competitors and could well top the medal table, but one thing they definitely won't be winning any awards for is counting. One of the most amusing stories in the run-up to the Games involved Norway's chef, who thought he had ordered 1,500 eggs but had instead asked for 15,000.
Meanwhile, Iran have been involved in a minor fracas after their athletes were not provided with complementary Samsung phones as part of their Pyeongchang gift bags. Donald Trump is thought to be ultimately responsible because of US sanctions against the country - sanctions which would have been broken had they been gifted the phones. Iran's Olympics head has accused the organisers of insulting the country's "pride, identity and dignity".
Over the next two weeks we'll be witness to some of the best athletes excelling in their chosen fields. But there's also the chance it could go wrong in embarrassing fashion. With just over 15 minutes to go now until the opening ceremony begins, what more apt time could there be to take a look at some of winter sport's biggest fails? You're not a bad person for laughing, you're really not.
As I mentioned earlier, the action has technically already got underway in Pyeongchang due to the packed schedules of some sports, curling in particular. And that's not without its controversy already - on the first day of competition, during a match between China and Switzerland, members from both teams appeared to move the stones towards the end of the match.
Canada - as expected - currently lead the way in mixed doubles curling after four sessions, with Norway and Russia - sorry, the Olympic Athletes from Russia - close behind. The USA are seventh out of eight as it stands.
While the action has started, there have been no medals handed out just yet. The first of those comes tomorrow with the cross-country skiing, while there will also be shiny things up for grabs in speed skating, biathlon and ski jumping.
GB will first be in action tomorrow (in the wee hours, UK-time) with Billy Morgan and Jamie Nicholls in snowboard slopestyle qualifiers, while Elise Christie gets her Olympics schedule underway with the 500m heats.
There are just 10 minutes to go now, so what do we know about the opening ceremony? Well, it's being held at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - see what they did there? - which has been built at a cost of £72m and will be used solely for the opening and closing ceremonies before being quite unceremoniously demolished.
The "message" of the ceremony is apparently "peace" - you listening, Kim? - and will feature 2,000 performers as well as an unspecified number of animals. The ceremony will also feature 5G technology and include a veritable feast of performances from K-Pop stars. There are unconfirmed rumours that South Korea's most famous musical export, 'Psy', will also be "performing".
Pita Taufatofua became a viral sensation at the Rio Olympics back in 2016 when he led out his Tonga team bare-chested during the opening ceremony. Well, he's a Winter Olympian now, having decided to become a cross-country skier, and is on flag duties again today. Fans of babyoil and male chests will be disappointed, however - Pita has confirmed that he won't be getting his nips out in sub-zero temperatures.
We're almost ready to go at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, which is lit up in bright purple and surprisingly not quite full to its 35,000 capacity. Temperatures are apparently slightly warmer than expected but still sub-zero.
An early display of firework prowess from all parts of Pyeongchang before the video resumes. Five children - apparently our guides for tonight - frolic on the snow and find a mysterious glowing orb. Each child represents one of the five elements - Captain Planet is spinning in his grave.
A performance now on janggu drums by hundreds of women, some of whom have the pleasure of being seated in the middle of the stadium, while others are doing a Sound of Music-style run around the arena while banging their tune out. Think an all-female version of Stomp.
The women in white in the centre hoist up their dresses and reveal a mixture of red and blue garments - and from a wide camera shot we can see they have formed the South Korean flag! Smart. On cue, eight South Korean athletes enter the stadium carrying a less impressive version of the flag. It's officially our first flag of the ceremony and frankly I cannot contain my excitement.
Everyone stands for the South Korean national anthem, performed by the Rainbow Children's Choir, as the flag is hoisted high. The anthem is quite sweet - it sounds a bit like To Be A Pilgrim crossed with the theme from Last of the Summer Wine.
Two big hitters next - the Netherlands, defending a record medal haul in Sochi and the mighty Norway, who have won more medals than any other nation in Winter Olympics history. Their delegation includes cross-country skier Marit Bjorgen, who is hoping to become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.
Mexico now, who have a turncoat among their ranks - Sarah Schleper previously represented Team USA in the slalom at the Winter Olympics but has now hopped across the border as one of just four Mexican athletes competing.
Iceland enter the stadium, its small team performing their own cha-cha slide dance routine as they do so. Iceland have never won a medal at the Winter Olympics, despite having the word "ice" in their name.
India's Shiva Keshavan leads out his country for what will be his sixth and final Winter Olympics. Applause follows for the arrival of Jamaica, whose bobsleigh team are in high spirits and in the mood to dance as they make their way around the stadium.
Huge cheers now as the 226 athletes of Canada enter the stadium with two flagbearers. Co-flagbearers, as I suppose they should be called. They boast the oldest competitor of the Games, 51-year-old curler Cheryl Bernard.
Time for some music. The five Captain Planet knockoff kids from earlier are back in the arena, sailing around on a raft and looking wide-eyed - and dare I say, mildly distressed - as an old man sings a traditional Korean song.
The five kids have now travelled through time in order to see their future selves - one has become a doctor, one an AI specialist, one a K-popstar, one an "urban simulation expert" and the last one became a serial killer.
Something for everyone there. South Korea is also reimagined 20 years down the line, complete with flying transport and enough holographic images to make your eyes bleed in what they say will be the "fourth industrial revolution".
A timely gust of wind enables the flag to finally fulfil its job, just in time for the Olympic Oaths. Another tradition, this requires one athlete, one coach and one judge to each promise to not do anything untoward. You know, just like the Russians promised to do in 2014.
Waiting there is Yuna Kim, renowned figure skater, who performs a small routine before collecting the torch and finally lighting the Olympic cauldron. There is an inappropriately-phallic third-party device involved as part of the process but I'll spare you the detail.
It's fair to say that that won't go down as one of the most memorable opening ceremonies in history but it did its job. On which note, I've also done mine and this is where I must leave you, friends. Thanks for joining me for the opening ceremony today and enjoy the action over the next fortnight. It's goodbye from me!