Six countries to make first Winter Games appearances in PyeongChang
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Six countries will make their historic Winter Olympics debuts in PyeongChang, organizers said Monday, with South Korea expecting the largest-ever delegation for the quadrennial event.
Malaysia, Singapore, Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo and Nigeria, which have never participated in previous Winter Games, are among the 92 countries taking part in the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the event's organizing committee said.
For this year's event, a whopping 2,925 athletes are expected to visit South Korea, an increase from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where 2,858 athletes from 88 countries competed.
Malaysian athletes will perform in figure skating and alpine skiing, and Singapore will compete in short track speed skating. Ecuador will send one athlete to cross-country skiing, and Nigeria will compete in women's bobsleigh and skeleton. Eritrea and Kosovo will also send athletes to alpine skiing.
The Nigerian bobsleigh team faced more than a few bumps on the road to PyeongChang, but it managed to overcome financial hurdles by going online to raise funds needed for their equipment and trip. Former track and field athlete Seun Adigun will join as the team's pilot.
Cheyenne Goh of Singapore is one of most anticipated athletes at PyeongChang as South Korean short track speed skating legend Chun Lee-kyung is her coach. Chun competed at three Winter Olympics during career, winning four gold medals and one bronze medal.
From Malaysia, Jeffrey Webb and Julian Yee will participate in alpine skiing and men's figure skating, respectively.
Canada-born alpine skier Shannon-Ogbani Abeda of Eritrea, who failed to take part in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, finally grabbed a ticket to PyeongChang, paving the way for the African country to make its debut.
Kosovo, which made its first official appearance at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro after gaining independence in 2008, will also debut in the Winter Games at PyeongChang.