News / Europe

Sochi Olympics Begin With Spectacular Opening Ceremony

Mike Richman
Competition begins in earnest Saturday at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi. The Games kicked off Friday with a glitzy opening ceremony that organizers hoped would paint a shining image of post-Soviet Russia.

Brand-new Fisht Olympic Stadium was a sea of Russian color and pageantry Friday.  

There, the opening ceremony for the Sochi Olympics featured Russian music, plus ballet stars, acrobats and cosmonauts, and many other entertainers.

Athletes from the more than 80 nations competing in Sochi packed the 40,000-seat stadium, as did Olympic fans from all over the world.

  • Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park during the opening ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • Actors perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A general view shows a scene from the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • The colors of the Russian flag are seen during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A general view shows the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A scene from the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • Flag-bearer Todd Lodwick of the U.S. leads his country's contingent during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • OlympicsA map of Canada is projected onto the stadium floor as athletes march in during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.

World leaders

More than 40 world leaders were in attendance, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

VOA Moscow bureau chief James Brooke was also there. He spoke to VOA by Skype.

“Yes, it was really a celebration that Russia’s back, a celebration of Russian pride, stretching through 400 years of Russian history, from Peter the Great building the navy, all the way up to the Soviet cosmonauts exploring space," said Brooke. "There were ballerinas; there were references to the classical authors Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, music by Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky.  Very stirring, and huge applause by the crowd of 40,000.”

After the customary lighting of the Olympic torch, an amazing fireworks show brightened the night sky with the event reaching its conclusion.

"A spectacular collection of fireworks that went off in just many minutes," said Brooke. "One person commented to me, 'I think that’s why we had a lousy fireworks display in my hometown. They sent all the fireworks to Sochi.' They just went on and on and on lighting up the Black Sea skyscape here. Really spectacular.”

Security issues

On the security front Friday, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said it is unfair to single out the Sochi Games as facing a particular threat.

"You can maybe not imagine how many threats there were on each of the Games before. We had threats on Sydney, we had threats on Athens. Maybe you remember the situation in Salt Lake City. There were many [threats], so you cannot single out these Games in this way," said Bach.

Russian security forces are on high alert following threats by Islamic extremists to carry out attacks and disrupt the Games.

Analysts have warned of possible attacks against soft targets, such as train stations and other areas where civilians congregate.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Laisie from: Canada
February 08, 2014 4:37 PM
I don't know why we are not able to see the opening ceremony it has been taken down in youtube and other sides I would have love to see the ceremony all you can find is the the one olympic ring not working. Give me a break one of our pillar on the Canadian winter games did not work and it was not the end of the world is not fare that the ceremony is not freely available this games are being shadow by bad publicity
In Response

by: Suzie Barlette from: United States
February 13, 2014 4:44 PM
I must agree. It seems like the U.S. is nit-picking for the negatives of Sochi. This I am ashamed of for my beloved country.

by: windson from: china
February 08, 2014 7:25 AM
America is a great country,but sometimes a little bit paranoid.At this moment that all celebrate,politics should be set aside.Generosities would make the America even more great!God bless sochi! God bless all of us!
In Response

by: Suzie Barlette from: United States
February 13, 2014 4:42 PM
I love the country I am from, and very proud of it. And yet, I agree that politics should not be the matter in everything. If America sees Russia as a threat, media will do nothing to stop it. The only thing that can change is how we, the citizens as well as others around us, understand what is truly happening...for Russia is a great country. There is a reason why Sochi was chosen for this years Olympics, do not defy the reasonings of the committee.

by: Suzy Hall from: Cincinnati, Ohio
February 08, 2014 1:40 AM
I wish Matt and Meredith would shut up! Take a breath now and then for God's sake!

by: Anonymous
February 08, 2014 1:37 AM
russians pretty tacky

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs