Sochi 2014: Report February 7

Friday, 07 February 2014

Sochi 2014 general scene AFP Getty Images

ALL THE NEWS, ACTION AND REACTION LIVE FROM SOCHI 2014 AS IT HAPPENS!

By Duncan Mackay in Sochi and Zjan Shirinian in London

Click refresh for latest updates. All times stated are Russian

Tomorrow's gold medal action

00:52 With most, if not all, the athletes fast asleep by know, it seems like a good time to sign off from Opening Ceremony night at Sochi 2014.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage of the Opening of the 22nd Winter Olympics. Now let the action begin.

Five gold medals are up for grabs on Saturday in: men's slopestyle, ladies' skiathlon 7.5 km classic + 7.5km free, men's 5,000m speed skating, men's cross country sprint 10km and the ladies' moguls.

We'll be live blogging throughout Saturday, with our team in Sochi reporting the very latest news.

Goodnight.

Pictures from Sochi's Opening Ceremony

00:30 It's been a memorable night in Sochi, here are some of our favourite pictures. Click on each to see them in all their glory.

The Russian flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics ©Getty ImagesOne of the Olympic rings, supposed to form out of snowflakes, fails to materialise ©Getty ImagesTeam USA arrive in the Stadium ©Getty Images
Bobsledder Alexander Zubkov leads the Russian team out into the Stadium ©Getty ImagesA troika pulls the sun through the air during the Opening Ceremony ©Getty ImagesInflatables, lots and lots of inflatables at the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images











Russian Olympic gold medallists Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretyak prepare to take the Olympic Torch to the cauldron outside the Stadium ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe cauldron will burn bright over Sochi for 16 days ©Getty ImagesFireworks explode over the skies of the Olympic Park ©Getty Images








Opening Ceremony epitomises old and modern Russia


23:52 Reporter Nick Butler, in a virtually empty Fisht Olympic Stadium, is writing his Opening Ceremony report. Read it here.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


23:50
Stadium nearly empty now but still an excited crescendo of voice can be heard reflecting on what has gone on this evening.

Impressive to see the relative lack of litter around the empty seats, with organises racing to clear up with the same amount of vigour with which they have turned Sochi into an Olympic host city over the last seven years.

©Twitter
"I can't believe this is real!!! OMG!! So amazing----amazing"
- US speed skater Kelly Gunther cannot believe her luck at being part of the Opening Ceremony.


Nick Butler in the Olympic StadiumNick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


23:11
Just to clarify, no-one in the Stadium could see either the fireworks or the Flame being lit, but the action was relayed to us via big screens. Crowd seemed very happy with choice of Flamelighters.

"Putin's partner" carries the Torch

23:09
What will Russia, and the rest of the world, make of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rumoured partner, Alina Kabaeva, being one of the athletes involved in the Torch relay around the stadium before the cauldron was lit? She won all-around gold in Athens 2004, having taken home bronze four years earlier. 

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


23:03
Fireworks still going on as crowds gradually begin to file out. No movement in the media section as the rush to meet deadlines begins.

The cauldron is alight

Russian icons Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina lit the Olympic cauldron ©Getty ImagesRussian icons Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina lit the Olympic cauldron ©Getty Images


22:56 Vladislav Tretiak, three-times ice hockey gold medallist and Irina Rodnina, three-times pairs figure skating gold medallist, run out of the Fisht Olympic Stadium with the Torch in their hands.

In the shadow of the huge cauldron, they light it, flames shooting upwards.

The Torch had passed from tennis player Maria Sharapova, to pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and then to wrestler Aleksandr Karelin and gymnast Alina Kabaeva - rumoured to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's partner - before being handed to the two Torch lighters - Russian icons.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


22:49 Hundreds of luminous skaters and - probably less evident on television - the occasional camera men dressed in black scurrying among them to get the best shot without becoming obstructive or obvious...

Visually brilliant live or on television though I expect.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


22:44 Stirring rendition of the Olympic Anthem and now an atmosphere of anticipation once again. Even the flickering of cameras has slowed somewhat...

Who will light the Flame?

Sneak peak

Russian cleaners enthralled by the ceremony ©ITG

22:38 Russian cleaners enthralled by the Opening Ceremony. Lots of clapping and cheering in the Main Press Centre.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


Thomas Bach did not shy away from the political issues which have dogged the build-up to Sochi 2014 ©Getty Images

22:30 Strong words from Thomas Bach again, repeating his criticism of those world leaders who chose not to attend for using the Olympic Games as a platform for political messages.

Speaking for too long, I hear some people say?

Thomas Bach makes strongly-worded speech

22:29 International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, giving his first Opening Ceremony speech having been elected in September, directly addresses the political ructions brought about by Russia's anti-gay rights laws.

Speaking directly to the athletes, he said: "No matter what your background...you are living together in the Olympic Village. You are bringing Olympic values to life."

He said the Games were about human diversity, before seemingly turning his attention directly to politicians who have decided not to attend the Games because of Russia's anti-gay rights law. He told them not to "jump on the back" of the athletes competing, and instead engage in "dialogue".

Quote graphic"It was absolutely amazing coming in. It was overwhelming...I've never been in front of such a big crowd. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was speechless."
- British biathlete Amanda Lightfoot after walking out with her team-mates into the Fisht Olympic Stadium

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


The 20th century segment of the Opening Ceremony ©ITG

22:05 Have just had an extended sequence to mark Natasha Rostova's first ball – as documented in Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's 1869 epic novel War and Peace.

Now we are into the 20th century: the rise of industry, the avant-garde movement and the Russian Revolution.

Will they top the table again?

The Canadian team march into the Olympic Stadium ©Canadian Olympic CommitteeThe Canadian team march into the Olympic Stadium ©Canadian Olympic Committee



22:03 Having topped the medals table at home in Vancouver four years ago, the Sochi Canadian sqaud will want to give a good account of themselves in Russia.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


21:58
All sorts of fascinating historical references over the last 15 minutes.

My highlight was St Basil's Cathedral being re-created in inflatable form. According to legend, Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect after the Cathedral was completed in 1552 so "nothing would be so beautiful again".

A projection of the rough seas to showcase Peter the Great's Russian navy followed.

Presidents having fun

Sharing a joke perhaps? IOC President Thomas Bach and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Opening Ceremony ©Getty ImagesSharing a joke perhaps? IOC President Thomas Bach and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images


21:50
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Russian President Vladimir Putin look like they're having a good time at the Opening Ceremony.

We're well into the history segment of the show now.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler

insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


Is it the real thing? Inflatables at the Sochi 2014 Opening ©ITG

21:40 Snow is falling around the stadium. "Is this real snow" cries one over-excited journalist who clearly hasn't been in sub-tropical coastal Sochi for very long.

I feel that this mascot and inflatable part of the Ceremony is perfectly catered for insidethegames editor Duncan Mackay and managing director Sarah Bowron.

Sochi mascots

The mascots arrive in the stadium ©ITG

21:35
Cute - Sochi's Olympic mascots make a star turn at the Opening Ceremony.

"Attempted hijacking"


21:29 Associated Press, quoting a Turkish official, report a passenger "with a bomb" has tried to divert a plane to Sochi. The flight, from Ukraine to Istanbul, has reportedly landed safely and is being searched.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


21:27 Drums reverberate around the stadium as the Russians are led out. They may have complained about the atmosphere at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in this country, but I would say it's pretty good at the moment.

Some sort of Harder Better Faster Stronger remix can be heard now. Very Olympics...

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


21:20 A few of the more obscure Opening Ceremony statistics...

More than 10,000 Russians auditioned for the Opening Ceremony – ranging in age from five to 67. More than 19,000 safety pins were used during auditions which, if placed together, would equal the length of 24 double-decker buses. The most popular name for those auditioning, just in case you were wondering, were Sasha and Pasha.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene of Monaco wave to the athletes ©Getty Images

21:04
From Moldova to Monaco to Mongolia. It's not quite from Paris to Ibiza, but much more exotic. IOC member Prince Albert waves enthusiastically to his Monaco team.

Independent Olympic Participants, so in other words India, are next.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


21:01 Best flagbearer outfit of the day so far from Kazakh cross country skier Yerdos Akhmadiyev. Could his country be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022 I wonder?

"LGBT activist arrested" in St Petersburg

20:59
Activist Anastasia Smirnova has reportedly been arrested with three others in St Petersburg, according to the Federation of Gay Games, after photographing a protest display of Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.

Brazil's athletes arrive in the stadium

Brazil's athletes arrive in the stadium

20:53 You can see more pictures from our reporter Nick Butler, from inside the Fisht Olympic Stadium, on our Facebook page.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


20:48 Skier Antonio Pardo of Venezuela boogies with his flag and gets the biggest cheer of the night so far. Reception for Georgia is not exactly loud, but given recent Russian-Georgian relations, it should be celebrated they are here at all.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


20:40
We have been handed a sheet of paper with the names of the five final Torchbearers. I will keep quiet, but one will likely ruffle a few feathers. Deafening roars as Greece then Australia lead the procession of athletes

Athletes' parade begins


20:37 A nifty athletes' parade, as they walk out into the centre of the stadium via a ramp. A picture of the Earth is projected onto the floor. 

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


20:28
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the IOC, Olympic champion in fencing at Montreal 1976, Thomas Bach are being announced.

Was that an appreciative nod from Putin when Bach's Olympic credentials were announced?

Russian national anthem now.

Russian anthem


20:27 A male choir are giving a stirring rendition of the Russian national anthem... they're in fine voice.

Four rings

One of the Olympic rings failed to materialise ©Getty ImagesOne of the Olympic rings failed to materialise ©Getty Images



20:24 Oops. One of the Olympic rings looks decidedly absent as the first segment of the Opening Ceremony culminates in the presentation of the rings above the floor of the stadium.

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


A Russian Village being floated into the Stadium ©ITG

20:23 
An authentic Russian village is floating across the stadium. Have just spotted the wagging tale of a live dog on one of the floats. Is it a stray I wonder? And is it meant to be there?

Simple as A to Z


20:19 After a A to Z, so to speak, of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, the in-stadium action begins

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


Atmospheric smoke fills the stadium ©ITG

20:13 I'm told the empty seats are for athletes more than VIPs. My Opening Ceremony naivety coming through there...

"Is it colder here than outside" asks the journalist next to me, still more concerned about the weather than anything else.

Any moment now the Opening Ceremony will be underway, as atmospheric smoke fills the stadium.

Nick Butler in the Olympic StadiumNick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


20:12 A performance by t.A.T.u followed by a video message from UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon concerning "sport and solidarity". Where else would you get those two together I wonder?

Official insidethegames recommendation for the hot dogs outside the press area.

Live broadcast beginning in a matter of minutes as 20:14 draws ever closer...

twitter logo"Ready. Set. #OpeningCeremony. About to begin here in Sochi. #GoTeamUSA"
- Team USA are primed and ready to play their part in the Opening Ceremony.


Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


Atmosphere building inside the Fisht Olympic Stadium ©ITG

19:55
"Let's warm up your vocal chords" say the announcers after a rendition of Daft Punk's Get Lucky. Venue around 90 per cent full now I would say, excluding an area of empty seats along one side – for VIPs I would expect.

Am expecting a traditional Russian show later, but right now, in the pre-ceremony, the routine of geeing up the crowd is the same as anywhere in the world...

Change the channel


19:50 After a week of every television in the Main Press Centre being tuned to BBC World they have now switched to BBC's direct feed of the Opening Ceremony fronted by Hazel Irvine and Robin Cousins. Who said Britain and Russia don't get on?

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


Special lights have been given to each spectator creating a red and blue glow ©ITG

19:34 Just played We are the Champions by Queen. Fronted, just in case you have forgotten the gay rights protests engulfing the build up to Sochi 2014, by Freddie Mercury.

Hugging a neighbour to "show our love to the world" is now being encouraged. Russian equivalent of the kiss-cam...

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


The pre-show has begun ©ITG

19:25 Pre-Ceremony starting. "Welcome to the centre of the universe" say the hosts, as the flicker of camera-phones echoes around the Fisht Stadium – filling up more and more with every minute... Official Sochi 2014 Anthem to start proceedings.

twitter logo"I'm hoping it will involve Elton John being fired out of a rainbow camouflaged canon lit by @TheEllenShow! #Sochi2014"
- Beth Fisher gives us her thoughts on how the Olympic Cauldron will be lit. Have a slightly more realistic guess for how it will be lit? Tweet us @insidethegames

Nick Butler in the Olympic Stadium
Nick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi


The roof of the Fisht Olympic Stadium is firmly closed ©ITG

19:04
The roof in the Olympic Stadium is firmly closed with just over an hour to go until the Ceremony gets underway. There are floodlights above each stand but a black ceiling in the middle above the ice. "Doesn't stop it being freezing though" comments the journalist next to me. The roof, designed by Vector Foiltec, is constructed from approximately 36,000 square metres of Texlon foil. Its vision is apparently to give it an appearance of snowy peaks, ensuring that it sits in harmony with the backdrop of the Imeretinskaya Valley and the Caucasus Mountains.

Nick ButlerNick Butler

insidethegames reporter at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi 

insidethegames reporter Nick Butler has arrived early for the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014 ©ITG


18:55 Atmosphere is just beginning to warm up as people begin to arrive. Some pumping 90's house music playing at the moment. Security very low key and unnoticeable compared with what I was expecting.

Does Putin care Obama and Cameron aren't at Opening Ceremony?

18:45
As reported at 16:54 Sochi 2014 are trumpeting the fact there will be more heads of State and Government at tonight's Opening Ceremony than were at Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010 combined. But, Matthew Lumby claims on Twitter, "it's who isn't there that's the real story.". Do you agree? Does Vladimir Putin care that United States President Barack Obama or British Prime Minister David Cameron aren't here? We are running a poll to find out what you think. Why not click here and vote. 

Remember when Zippo "saved" the Olympics?

Zippo removed this image from its Facebook page after Sochi 2014 officials warned them that they might be breaking rules on Olympic marketing ©FacebookZippo removed this image from its Facebook page after Sochi 2014 officials warned them that they might be breaking rules on Olympic marketing ©Facebook


18:25 After being lit as ever in Ancient Olympia, the Torch arrived in Moscow from Athens in October and has since spent four months criss-crossing all 83 regions of Russia in a journey spanning 65,000 kilometres and nine time zones. Among the highlights have been trips to the North Pole, the first ever Olympic Torch spacewalk and voyages to the bottom of Lake Baikal and the top of Mount Elbrus. Various mishaps have included the being Flame unintentionally extinguished and then relit with a Zippo lighter leading the American to launch a cheeky brief Facebook campaign, a bearer set on fire and another have a heart attack soon after carrying it. But it has also emphasised the diversity and unity of Russia -  a theme set to be further explored in tonight's Opening Ceremony.

twitter logoIn the #Olympic Stadium for @insidethegames ahead of #Sochi2014 Opening Ceremony tonight. Excited to see how the Flame will be lit...
- insidethegames reporter Nick Butler, who will be covering the Opening Ceremony in the Fisht Olympic Stadium

Meeting the mascots

The Sochi 2014 polar bear makes a new friend ©IOCThe Sochi 2014 polar bear makes a new friend ©IOC

18: 20 South Korea's defending Olympic figure skating champion and one of the biggest stars at these Winter Olympics, Yuna Kim, has been meeting one of the Sochi 2014 mascots. Cute!

The Olympic Flame is here!

18:02
The Olympic Flame has arrived in the centre of Sochi on a special train No. 701, completing its record-breaking journey along Russia's railways in 83 days. On the first platform, the Keepers of the Flame were greeted by Olympic figure skating champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov, he first torchbearers for Day 122 of the Sochi 2014 Torch Relay. Navka thenconducted the Torch Relay train, decorated with elements of the bright orange patchwork quilt, and she descended the staircase to the station area, where she passed the Flame to Kostomarov.

Violence breaks out in next Olympic host city

17:56
Worrying news for organisers of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Major riots have broken out and several people are injured. Breaking news here

Quote graphic"I still remember when we arrived there, we were led to a bus by armed policemen with machine guns over their shoulders, some of them were with us in the bus, some in front, some behind. The same when you went to training, you always had a police guard. When you went to competition, you had a police guard. There, security was much more obvious and closer to you than it is here now."
- IOC President Thomas Bach the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, where he represented Germany and won a gold medal in fencing

Venezuela ahead of Germany at Sochi 2014

17:41
The decision by Sochi 2014 to use the Cyrillic alphabet has thrown up some interesting variations to what we are used to besides having Iran follow Israel. Greece, as as the nation of the Ancient and first Modern Olympic Games, will lead the nations out as is traditional. But, whereas at London 2012, they were followed by Afghanistan, here it will be Australia. Venezuela, sixth from last at London, will be 19th here - ahead of Germany. Britain will come in 17th, sandwiched between The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Hungary. Russia will be last, as is traditional for the host nation, proceeded by Jamaica and Japan.

Cyrillic alphabet plan throws up diplomatic incident


17:05 Teams will march in the Parade of Nations tonight according to the Cyrillic alphabet which has thrown up one potential diplomatic incident with the Iranian team following Israel. The two countries have not had any official relations with each other since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 with Iran refusing to recognise the legitimacy of Israel. Iranian athletes have regularly refused to compete against Israelis when they have been drawn against each other in previous Olympics. Israel's team of five will be 27th in the order while Iran, who are also sending five competitors, will be 28th. Sandwiched between these two enemies will be Zimbabwe in 26th and Ireland 29th.

Who needs Barack Obama?


16:54 More than 50 heads of State and Government are to attend tonight's Opening Ceremony which, as organisers smugly point out, is "more than at the last two Games in Turin and Vancouver combined" and a bit of a coup for Vladimir Putin when all the talk had been about the number of leaders not showing up. Among the leaders are Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Norway's King Harald V and Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Also due to attend is Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych despite the unrest at home caused by his close relations with Russia. 

©Twitter"We're singing #SongsForSochi outside Russian embassy from 4pm (opening ceremony)."
- The London Gay Men's Chorus wants to "draw attention to the atrocities happening to our LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] cousins in Russia".

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony overshadowed by tragedy

The Georgian team marched into the stadium in Vancouver wearing black armbands ©Sports Illustrated/Getty ImagesThe Georgian team marched into the stadium in Vancouver wearing black armbands ©Sports Illustrated/Getty Images



16:34
Four years ago, the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was held just hours after the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed during a training run. This was how we reported the ceremony.

Oslo unveil bid logo for 2022 Games

16:21
While attention is firmly on all things Winter Olympics-related, Oslo has chosen the moment to unveil an eye-catching and colourful logo for its bid to stage the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics. Check it out here.

Opening Ceremony will "show Russia to the world"


15:40 
Who's going to light the Olympic Flame? And how? Opening Ceremony organisers may unsurprisingly be staying tight-lipped on that, but they have spilled the beans on some of what we can expect when it gets underway at 20:14 local time.

Highest ever participation at Winter Olympics hailed

13:07
Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees and Olympic Solidarity, has hailed a record number of countries competing at the Winter Olympics. The national flags of the last seven nations were raised at the Olympic Villages last night, and the teams' official welcome concluded the daily ceremonies which began last February. Dominica, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe will all be sending athletes to a Winter Games for the very first time. In addition to the 87 NOCs, athletes from India will compete under the Olympic flag. "I am delighted to see so many NOCs participating at Sochi 2014, many for the first time and many which would not normally be considered traditional winter sports nations," said Sheikh Ahmad. "It goes to show what can be achieved when the NOC family works together to share resources, experience and best practices."

Full house for Kiwis

12:32
A full contingent of Sochi-based New Zealand athletes will be marching in the Opening Ceremony, it has been revealed. Led by speed skater Shane Dobbin, carrying the New Zealand flag and wearing the team's feather cloak, 14 athletes will enter the Stadium.  The athletes will be in traditional black and white, made by New Zealand Olympic sponsor Peak Clothing, with the silver fern a strong element. Somewhat unusual among teams here in Sochi, the uniform will also feature the words New Zealand written in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Flag bearer Dobbin kicks off competition for the New Zealanders tomorrow, just 24 hours after the ceremony but has plans in place to ensure he's in good shape for the 5,000m. "We've got him a cushion," said Chef de Mission Pete Wardell. "He'll be kept warm and comfortable and we'll make sure he's not on his feet too much. Fortunately his accommodation is also very close to the stadium."

Vladimir Putin to open Sochi 2014 Ceremony

12:00
It has been revealed that at the beginning of the Opening Ceremony striking videos about Russia and its history will be revealed followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin welcoming the spectators to the event and the sound of the Russian national anthem will accompany the flag-raising ceremony of the host country.

For the first time ever, the traditional athletes' parade - Parade of Nations - will be performed with athletes stepping up to the stage along a 48-metre ramp in the middle of the Stadium. Representatives of 88 national delegations will take part in the Parades.

After the official speeches of Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and chief executive of Sochi 2014, and IOC President Thomas Bach, Putin will declare the XXII Olympic Winter Games open. The Olympic flag will be raised during the Olympic anthem in the Stadium.

Sochi claim it will "be remembered for its scale, style and innovative technology".

New IOC vice-president elected

11:44
As preparations for the Opening Ceremony continue, the International Olympic Committee have been wrapping up their annual Session by holding elections to find a new vice-president to replace Thomas Bach after his elevation to the top job last September. China's Yu Zaiqing was elected unopposed, regaining a position he previously held between 2008 and 2012. World Archery President Uğur Erdener, meanwhile, has been elected onto the .Executive Board after defeating Canadian Dick Pound in a two-man contest.

More injury woe for Pickering

11:26
Britain's Craig Pickering has missed out on the opportunity to join the select group of Britons to compete at both the Summer and Winter Olympics after being forced to pull out of Sochi 2014 because of a back injury. Pickering, who had run for Britain's 4x100 metres relay team at Beijing 2008, had been due to compete in the bobsleigh but has withdrawn after sustaining a L3-4 acute disc prolapse.

"Having missed out on competing at the London 2012 Games due to a back injury I am devastated to have suffered a similar fate just days before the start of Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games," he said. "We worked so hard to qualify the GBR 2 sled for Games and I am gutted that I won't be on the start line."

United States ice hockey manager in hospital


11:01 Meanwhile, general manager of the United States men's ice hockey team David Poile, was taken to hospital last night after being struck by a puck during a training session with his National Hockey League team, Nashville Predators. A statement from the NHL club read: "Nashville Predators general manager David Poile was taken to a St. Paul, Minn., hospital today [Thursday] after being struck by an errant puck during the team's morning skate at Xcel Energy Center.

"He will remain in the hospital overnight for observation and evaluation, and further information will be released as it becomes available."

The US men, one of the favourites for a gold medal, are scheduled to fly here on Sunday.

Teach yourself about the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies

10:41
If you want to find out about what has happened in previous Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies then I suggest you read a blog the always excellent Philip Barker wrote for insidethegames earlier this week. Click here

Who's playing the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony?

10:22 
Daniel Ezralow, a Broadway choreographer famous for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, is leading a cast of about 80 professional dancers and hundreds of volunteers in a performance about "20th-century Russia". Russia's world-famous for its classical composers, and several top contemporaries are expected to play a role in the Opening Ceremony. Russian pop band t.A.T.u, two teenagers who semi-pretended to be lesbians and were briefly popular in the mid-2000s, is rumoured to be playing, which would be an interesting appearance bearing in mind all the fuss over the anti-gay propaganda law.

Google takes stand against anti-gay law at Sochi Winter Olympics

oogle marked Sochi 2014 by flying the gay flag in a search page Doodle that linked to a call for equality in the Olympic Charter ©GoogleGoogle marked Sochi 2014 by flying the gay flag in a search page Doodle that linked to a call for equality in the Olympic Charter ©Google

09:53
 To mark the start of Sochi 2014 internet giant Google is taking a very public stand against Russian anti-gay law and discrimination.They are Google doodle on its homepage of athletes in the colorus and pattern of the rainbow gay pride flag. Click on the image and you are taken to the search results for "Olympic Charter."

Google put this excerpt from the Olympic Charter on its homepage: "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

Google also changed its homepage in Russia.

What can we expect from the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony?

Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony rehearsals ©AFP/Getty ImagesFireworks illuminate the sky over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony rehearsals ©AFP/Getty Images

09:27 
The opening ceremonies are due start at 20:14 in the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi.
It's expected that Sochi will put on a display of Russian history entitled "Welcome to Sochi" that will feature over 3,000 performers, recreations of classic Russian fairy tales and a celebration of classical Russian music and ballet It'll probably last somewhere around four hours. Check out your local listings to see how you can watch it. We know from the rehearsals, held earlier this week, that the Opening Ceremony will end with fireworks... 

09:03
If you want to catch up with what happened on the first day of competition then read through yesterday's live blog by clicking here 

insidethegames LIVE from Sochi


09:00 Hello and welcome to insidethegames' exclusive daily update from the Winter Olympics in Sochi. After the competition started yesterday today sees the Games formally opened with what is expected to be a spectacular ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium. 
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