With just two days left until the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on February 9th, the excitement is building. Opening ceremonies are full of drama, spectacle, and local culture, making them always enjoyable to watch. But this year’s ceremony in PyeongChang promises to add another ingredient to the mix: cold.
NBC reported that the day of the opening ceremony, the South Korean city’s forecast features a high temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 30. But after factoring in wind chill, PyeongChang is expected to get so cold that there are concerns about spectators contracting hypothermia. And during the weekend of February 10th-11th, temperatures could plunge as low as 11 degrees.
According to ABC, the stadium where the event will be held does not have a roof or central heating. On February 3rd, during a rehearsal for the event, wind chill caused the temperature to dip to -7 degrees Fahrenheit. To combat the bitter cold, audience members will receive packs including blankets, hats, and a heated seat cushion. And competitors are taking their own measures to stay warm. Team USA will wear heated Ralph Lauren jackets for the duration of the ceremony.
The 2018 Winter Olympics could become the coldest Olympics since the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The 2014 Olympics in Sochi and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver were both much milder.
According to AccuWeather, PyeongChang generally experiences winters that are cold but dry, with February being the area’s driest month. The South Korean city is the coldest location in the world for its latitude.
The cold weather could have some unexpected effects on the events, too. Austrian alpine skier Marcel Hirscher told the BBC that, due to sharp ice crystals produced by the subzero temperatures, his skis were being burned on the slopes. Low temperatures could also slow down bobsleds.
Hearing the weather forecast for these Olympics makes us glad we’ll be watching all 15 sports from inside. We hope that all athletes and spectators stay safe and warm throughout these freezing games.