Even Canadians feeling the Pyeongchang chill

Canada's Luge team member Kim McRae attends a press conference during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 5, 2018 in Pyeongchang. Photo: MOHD RASFAN / AFP

PYEONGCHANG - The freezing temperatures are the talk of the Pyeongchang Olympics in the build-up to Friday's opening ceremony and it's so cold that even the Canadians are calling it "a nightmare".

Temperatures struggled to a high of minus seven degrees Celsius (20F) in the day on Tuesday but punishing winds made it feel several degrees colder than that.

The mercury was set to plunge to minus 20C for the second night in a row and Kevin Boyer, a skeleton athlete from Canada, was feeling the chill.

READ: Brutal cold raises concerns over Olympics opening ceremony

"It is the humidity that cuts you deep, so not only is it cold, it chills you to the bone," said Boyer, who is from Edmonton, Alberta, itself no stranger to ferocious winter weather.

"The wind is the worst, you walk around the (Olympic) village and it is like a nightmare.

"It's funny because coming from Canada we talk about being used to the cold, but this is a cold we haven't seen before."

The freeze threatens to force some athletes and officials to pull out of Friday's opening ceremony, which will take place at night time in a stadium that has no roof and is exposed to the elements.

Survival kits

The Italian team has ordered its staff with heart problems or diabetes to skip the traditional curtainraiser and told its athletes to keep moving at all times.

Some competitors from New Zealand may not attend, but Boyer has no plans to skip the gala.

"As first-time Olympians we are all really excited to walk in to the opening ceremony as Team Canada and be something bigger than ourselves," he said.

Team-mate Barrett Martineau added: "I personally have no concerns.

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"I spent a lifetime chasing this dream so I'm going to walk in to that opening ceremony with a smile and waving with pride, whether it's cold or freezing or I'm standing for hours."

The good news for the teams and the 35,000 spectators is that temperatures are forecast to warm up on Friday and could even nudge above freezing during the day.

Organisers will also hand out survival kits for the ceremony that include heat pads for the hands and feet.

Australia's chef de mission Ian Chesterman said: "We're expecting that around half the total team size will be actually out there marching, which I think is good.

"We know that in summer and winter Games, people will choose to put their performance first, which is right, over the experience of going to the Games.

"We will have a good number of Aussies out there and I think that those who go along will enjoy it."

AFP

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