Winter Olympics 2014 opening ceremony: Let the Sochi Games begin... Vladimir Putin opens the Games but not before a lighting malfunction and performance from t.A.T.u

Sochi Games under way with spectacular display

The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics was broadcast to more than 200 countries providing the perfect opportunity for Russia to put on a display - however not everything went to plan.

For some, these ceremonies border on the tedious rather than the inspiring, but they always tend to provide a few talking points.

In Beijing it was the incredibly acute choreography, in London the celebration of the NHS, in LA a jetpack. So what will it be in Sochi?

Opening ceremony at a glance...

  • Jon Eley carries the flag for Team GB
  • Cauldron lit by figure skater Irina Rodnina and ice hockey goalkeeper Vladislav Tretiak
  • Ceremony started at 16:14 GMT
  • Embarrassment as Olympic rings malfunction
  • Teams enter the stadium
  • Putin declares Games officially open

The ceremony started with an 'A to Z' video of all Russia's contributions to the world before cutting to the opening ceremony staple, a cute (if rather fearful looking) little girl who began to then float around the stadium.

Next up was a reminder of Russia's diverse landscapes, a depiction aided by pretend horses, reindeer and a dog (perhaps a stuffed one from the many that were culled in Sochi before the Games).

However, the start of the ceremony did not all go to plan.

While many were expecting a bit of a dog-eared Winter Olympics given the widely-reported problems during the preparation stages, few could have predicted that it would have been the Olympic rings themselves, hoisted high in the stadium during the opening ceremony, that would be the thing to malfunction.

Five snowflakes were supposed to transform into five interlocking rings during the event, but number five (the red one) appeared to get stuck, serving as an unintentional slight to the nations it is generally considered to represent (Japan and China).

Photos of four fifths of the Olympics symbol, rather predictably, soon spread on social media.

The Olympic Rings as presented by Sochi 2014 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.

The teams entered the stadium in alphabetical order, but not before Greece as is traditional. Among the highlights were the knitwear worn by the United States' athletes and the colourful outfits sported by Germany. Sweden meanwhile wore designs from highstreet store H&M.

Also among those entering the stadium was Vanessa Mae, the violinist competing for Thailand. Jon Eley led out Team GB who come to these Games with expectations higher than ever. A target of three-to-seven medals has been set.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the Sochi Olympics, was the first to make a speech.

"Welcome to the 2014 Olympics Winter Games in Sochi," he said. "Our city is unique, as all of Russia is unique.

"It is the largest country in the world where Europe meets Russia. We are proud to have the privilege to host the entire world."

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said: "Welcome to the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. Tonight we are writing a new page in Olympic history. What took decades in other parts of the world has been achieved here in just seven years. This is a remarkable achievement.

"Thousands of volunteers have welcomed us with the well known warm Russian hospitality. Many thanks to all of them.

"Russia and the Russians have set the stage for you, the best winter athletes on the planet. From this moment on, you're not only the best, you are Olympic athletes. You will inspire us with your outstanding performances."

It was then left to Vladimir Putin to officially open the Games.

For those fearing a show of propaganda from the Russian president, there was relief. "The Olympic Charter is very clear. The President can say only one sentence," Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC explained in reference to the standard line used by heads of state to open the Games, which is: "I hereby declare open the Games of the Olympiad." Considering Putin has pumped around £31bn to put on this show, he might have felt a little short changed. However, he did look mightily proud.

Tennis player Maria Sharapova was given the honour of carrying the Olympic Flame into the stadium. Eventually it came to figure skater Irina Rodnina and ice hockey goalkeeper Vladislav Tretiak who lit the cauldron together.

All that was left was for the customary fireworks to go off.

Before the ceremony in Sochi, there was controversy - sort of.

t.A.T.u, the female duo who caused worldwide controversy with their video for All The Things She Said back in 2002, were among the more surprising choices to help with today's warm-up for the opening ceremony. Lena and Julia, who appeared in school uniforms embracing in their music video also regularly kissed on stage. So shocking were their antics, ITV show CD:UK banned the video. While hardly Pussy Riot, considering Russia has come under heavy scrutiny for their laws on homosexual 'propaganda', the duo were an interesting selection.

Among the dignitaries attending the opening ceremony were Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart. And then there was Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, who announced today he'll be at the Olympics despite it being held in the country that invaded his own in 1979.

However, more focus has been placed on those not going. Among them was Prime Minister David Cameron. Perhaps that was due to the lack of selfie opportunities as Barack Obama was not attending either. There was also no Francois Hollande or Angela Merkel.

 

Not every athlete was taking part either, with many of those in action on Saturday, including the women's ice hockey teams from Finland and the United States, opting to stay away. With the expectation that athletes would have to stand around for about five hours made the decision understandable.

Today's ceremony inside the 40,000 capacity Fisht Stadium was an opportunity for Russia to show a different, more vibrant side to the rest of the world for the first time since Soviet Moscow hosted the Summer Games in 1980.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments