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Diplomacy Takes Center Stage at Olympics


South Korean Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim lights the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2018.

Saturday's games at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, feature the first match of the joint North-South Korean women's ice hockey team, as diplomacy takes center stage at the start of the games.

The 2018 Winter Olympics officially began Friday when a parade of athletes entered the Olympic stadium, including athletes from North and South Korea who marched together behind a blue and white Korean unification flag.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Saturday with a delegation from North Korea that includes Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yo Jong is the first member of the North's longtime ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

She is a senior member of the North's ruling Workers’ Party and a key adviser to her brother.

Kim Yo Jong and her entourage, including Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's ceremonial head of state, attended the opening ceremonies Friday and are expected to stay in South Korea through Sunday.

It is not known if Kim Yo Jong will attend the women’s hockey game on Saturday, but the team is playing Switzerland, where both she and leader Kim Jong Un went to school when they were children.

The divided Koreas have agreed to compete as a team in women’s ice hockey when just a few weeks ago they were flirting with nuclear war.

Other sports on the agenda Saturday include the first gold medal awarded during the games in the women’s cross-country skiathlon. Norway's Marit Bjorgen will be looking for her third title in the event.

Medals will also be awarded Saturday in men’s short-track speed skating, women’s speed skating, women’s biathlon and men’s ski jumping.

The U.S. team got off to a controversial start on Friday with its flag bearer choice. Erin Hamlin, a luger, and speedskater Shani Davis tied in a vote for the honor. Hamlin then won a coin toss to carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony.

Hamlin said in a tweet that she is “incredibly proud to have the privilege of leading every amazing Team USA athlete into that stadium.” Davis said the process was not fair.

The Winter Games run through Feb. 25.

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