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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum