OFFICIALS did warn that it could be the coldest opening ceremony in 24 years. They were of course talking about the temperatures approaching -30C prior to yesterday’s start of the Winter Olympic Games in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and not the political chill that has also hovered over the games.

The Olympics is no stranger to political tensions and controversies. This one is no exception, not least given that it’s being hosted in a city barely 50 miles from the North Korean border and the regime of Kim Jong Un, with whom relations of late have been fractious to say the least.

As often happens once the Games opening ceremony gets under way, much of the lingering political tension and animosity was instantly swept up in the euphoria of yesterday’s dazzling display of swirling light and dance that unfolded before the 35,000 spectators in the Olympic stadium.

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There was even a rather surreal moment when a lookalike US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un caused a commotion as they were escorted by security guards from the stands. “We’re getting along great,” said the Kim lookalike, before explaining to reporters that they were both there to promote world peace.

The reality is altogether different, with relations between Washington and Pyongyang at pretty much an all-time low. That much was evident after US Vice-President Mike Pence skipped a dinner at which he was due to share a table with Kim Young-nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state at the Games. The snub shows the extent to which the US is determined to deny North Korea a propaganda victory, with Mr Pence contrasting the growing excitement over Pyongyang’s participation at the Games with powerful reminders of what he has called the most “tyrannical regime on the planet.”

All this of course has forced the South Korean Government and its president, Moon Jae-in, into something of a delicate position not to offend either VIP camp from Washington and Pyongyang.

Privately, US officials confirmed that Mr Pence has expressed his concern to Mt Moon about the more conciliatory tone toward the North Korean regime. The sight of the South Korean President shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo Jong at the opening ceremony will have done little to allay American fears.

On one level any rapprochement between North and South Korea should be a cause for celebration, but seen from Washington’s perspective right now nothing worries the Americans more.

Some US officials have even suggested that the fact both North and South Korean athletes are able to march, and for the first time, compete together under a unified flag, is nothing less than an effort to shove a diplomatic wedge between South Korea and its long time American ally.

Whatever the truth, on another level the thawing of relations between North and South Korea has certainly offered the International Olympic Committee a welcome good news story after months of sustained criticism over its limp reaction to Russian doping at the Sochi Games four years ago.

For most of the athletes competing, of course, such political shenanigans will be the last thing on their minds as they strive for medals. The great news on this front is that a band of Scottish athletes as part of Team GB is looking good to warm the hearts of those back home in what many say could be the best medal tally in a long time. With speed skater Elise Christie leading the medal charge, Scotland’s curlers and cross country skiers are among those who aim to do us proud. This might be a winter Olympics set in the frostiest of political conditions, but here in Scotland we have much to look forward to. We wish all the athletes the very best of luck.