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Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony: Russia welcomes the world

2014-02-08 13:46:00 IOC

At 22h26 local time, the IOC President then handed over to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, in time-honoured fashion, declared the Games open. Soprano Anna Netrebko performed a moving rendition of the Olympic Anthem before Russian short-track speed skater Ruslan Zakharov stepped forward to take the Olympic oath on behalf of all the athletes, while Vyacheslav Vedenin performed the same task for the judges, while Anastasia Popkova took the oath on behalf of the coaches.

Russian legends light the cauldron
At 22:32 local time, the Olympic flag was borne into the stadium by eight famous Russians, each prominent in a different field: cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to travel into space, six-time Olympic speed skating champion Lidiya Skoblikova, film director Nikita Mikhailkov, actress Chulpan Khamatova, journalist Anastasia Popova, ice hockey legend Vyacheslav Fetisov, conductor Valeriy Gergiev, and virtual racing driving champion Alan Enileev.

The Olympic torch was then transported, relay style, by six legends of Russian sport. First, tennis star Maria Sharapova, who herself hails from Sochi, carried the flame into the stadium before handing it on to pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva.

It was then passed, in turn, to wrestling champion Aleksandr Karelin and rhythmic gymnastics star Alina Kabayeva. Finally, it fell to former ice skater Irina Rodnina and ice hockey keeper Vladislav Tretiak - both triple Olympic gold medallists - to complete the final leg of the relay and light the Olympic cauldron.

After a dramatic firework finale, the stage was set for 16 days of equally dramatic competition. Let the Games begin!

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