Pyeongchang gets ready for sport to take over politics, as Winter Olympics begin

The countdown is over and the Winter Olympics in South Korea officially gets underway Friday night.

Organisers hope the focus can finally move from politics to sport.

After weeks of speculation, it took just minutes for the 45 Russian athletes hoping to overturn their drug ban and compete at PyeongChang to learn their fate.

They are out and so ended one of the sagas that have dominated the weeks before the Olympics began.

No question about Tonga's Pita Taufatofua's status, though.

The island nation's sole representative made headlines two years, when he marched shirtless. There's not likely to be a repeat performance at tonight's opening ceremony.

"I've had 12 weeks on skis and somehow I'm here," he said. "It's a miracle."

The Olympic torch has finally arrived in Pyeongchang - people aren't talking about the sanctions against North Korea or those Russian athletes trying to get their lifetime bans overturned.

It's all about this moment - it's about the Olympic movement.

Last night, BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker carried the Olympic torch, further enhancing New Zealand's growing status as a Winter Olympics nation.

And earlier on Friday, Beau James Wells was named to lead our biggest and strongest team.

A team determined to win a medal.

Mike McRoberts is at Pyeongchang, covering the Winter Olympics for Newshub.