U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took part in the Olympic torch relay Thursday, one day before the Winter Olympic Games officially open in Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach passed the torch to Ban next to the Sochi River. Bach said he was glad to send an "Olympic message of peace and understanding."
Fans cheered both men as they carried the Olympic flame toward Fisht Olympic Stadium, where opening ceremonies promising to be spectacular will be held on Friday.
Qualifying rounds began on Thursday in several sports.
WATCH: Video clip of Ban Ki-moon press conference in Sochi:
Russia took the lead in team figure skating competition, a new team gold medal event at the Winter Olympics. Russia's world pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov crafted a thrilling performance to finish first with 83.79 points.
Snowboarding slopestyle also debuted at the Winter Games on Thursday. Austria's Anna Gasser qualified for the women's final with the top score of 95.50, while Canada's Maxence Parrot secured his place in the men's final with the high score of 97.50.
In other news, Ban condemned anti-gay discrimination and called on warring parties worldwide to observe an "Olympic truce."
On Thursday, he indirectly referenced a new Russian law banning the spread of "gay propaganda" among minors - a law critics say can be broadly interpreted to crack down on support of gay rights in general.
On the security front, officials remain on high alert for possible terrorist attacks linked to the Olympic Games. U.S. homeland security officials are warning airlines flying to Russia to watch out for toothpaste tubes that may be filled with bomb-making materials.
The officials cited no specific threat.
Jamie Anderson of the U.S. gestures at the finish line during the women's snowboard slopestyle qualifying session at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Feb. 6, 2014.
Jessika Jenson of the U.S. performs a last jump during the women's snowboard slopestyle qualifying session at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Feb. 6, 2014.
Swiss team members ski past an anti-aircraft missile battery during a training session for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor, Feb. 6, 2014.
Russia's Semen Pavlichenko speeds down the track during a men luge training at the Sanki sliding center in Rosa Khutor, Feb. 6, 2014.
France's four-man bobsleigh pilot Thibault-Alexis Godefroy and his team start during an unofficial men's bobsleigh progressive training at the Sanki sliding center in Rosa Khutor, Feb. 6, 2014.
Members of the U.S. freestyle skiing team pose with members of a Cossack dancing chorus dressed in traditional costumes in Rosa Khutor, Feb. 6, 2014.
A stray dog sits near Olympic volunteers in Olympic Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014.