We don’t know who will light the Olympic flame at Friday’s Opening Ceremonies in PyeongChang, South Korea. Here’s what we do know: After the flame is passed around PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, it will end up with an athlete or athletes of Korean descent, at least based on the torch-lighters at the last few Opening Ceremonies.

Salt Lake City 2002: Members of the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. hockey team.

Turin 2006: Stefania Belmondo, two-time Olympic cross-country gold medalist from Italy.

Vancouver 2010: Because the Opening Ceremonies took place at an indoor stadium and IOC rules state that the Olympic flame must be visible to everyone in the host city, there were two cauldrons in 2010. The indoor flame was lit by Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Alpine skier Nancy Greene Raine and basketball player Steve Nash (speedskater Catriona Ann Le May Doan was supposed to join in but was thwarted by a cauldron malfunction). Police then escorted Gretzky to light the outdoor cauldron a little more than a mile away.


Sochi 2014: Russian figure skater Irinia Rodnina and hockey goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.

Here are our best guesses as to who will light the lamp on Friday in PyeongChang.

Yuna Kim

The first South Korean figure skater to medal at the Olympics, Kim won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games and silver four years ago in Sochi (losing in somewhat controversial fashion to 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikova). Now 27 and retired from the sport, she is a massive celebrity in her native country.

Chun Lee-kyung

Apart from Viktor Ahn, who was born in South Korea but now competes for Russia, Chun is the country’s most decorated speedskating star with four gold medals and a bronze. She’s now coaching Cheyenne Goh, the first person from Singapore ever to qualify for the Winter Olympics.


Jin Jong-oh

A sports shooter who has won gold medals in three straight Summer Olympics, Jin is tied for the most Olympic medals ever won by a South Korean with six.


Kim Soo-nyung

Kim also has six Olympic medals, four of them gold. She was named the greatest female archer of the 20th century by the International Archery Federation in 2011.

One of the above with a North Korean athlete, or the joint Korean women’s hockey team

Athletes from South Korea and North Korea will march together under a unification flag at the Opening Ceremonies, and the two warring nations will field a women’s ice hockey team comprising players from both countries at this year’s Olympics. What better way to spread the Games’ message of peace through sport than athletes from both nations lighting the flame.

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