Russia’s Winter Olympics officially got underway on the Black Sea coast on Friday with a grandiose opening ceremony that President Vladimir Putin hoped would dispel fears of militant attacks and a row over gay rights that marred the buildup.
Putin has staked his reputation on hosting a safe and successful Games in the resort town of Sochi, where a colourful, sometimes muddled show before 40,000 spectators at the gleaming Fisht Stadium signalled the start of full sporting competition.
”I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games open,” said Putin, launching an event he has personally overseen and expects will burnish Russia http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/rugby/russia/ ‘s, and his own, image on the world stage.
In an embarrassing early technical glitch, one of the five Olympic rings suspended high above the stage failed to unfurl, meaning that the giant structure could not be illuminated by fireworks as planned and the sequence had to be abandoned.
The show went on with no further interruptions, and cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who has spent more days in space than anyone, hoisted the Russian flag as performers dressed in glowing red, blue and white lights formed a living flag.
Athletes emerged from beneath the stage up a ramp for the traditional parade, and a giant satellite image of each nation taken from space was projected onto the floor.The crowd cheered them around the track, and light boxes on seats in the stands created a dazzling visual backdrop.
Before the symbol hiccup, a young girl in white dress soared into the air, lifted by a harness, and sang as islands representing different parts of Russia with folktale scenes drifted dreamlike across the stadium.
The spectacular, officially launching the Winter Games, began at 2014 local time, and minutes later a burst of fireworks lit up the clear night sky outside the gleaming new stadium located on the shores of the Black Sea.
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