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Opening Ceremonies for Sochi Olympics Set to Begin

Opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympic Games in the Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi are set to begin.

Thousands of people will be at Fisht Olympic Stadium for a spectacular ceremony that will mark the official launch of the Sochi Games.

Heads of state and leaders from around the world will attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

U.S. President Barack Obama and some European Union leaders will be absent. Russia has been battling criticism of its law banning the spread of so-called "gay propaganda" to minors.

Security remained tight Friday in and around the Olympic village, with authorities on guard for possible terrorist attacks.

However, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Friday it is unfair to single out the Sochi Games as facing a particular security threat. He said terrorist threats have been made at other Olympics, including Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Salt Lake City in 2002.

Security has also been bolstered around the Kremlin in the hours before the opening ceremony.

Bach also said preparations for the Games are going "pretty smoothly," but that the first few days of the games usually have "a small hiccup here or there." He did not say what those problems might be.

Qualifying rounds began Thursday in several sports, including the team figure skating competition, a new team gold medal event at the Winter Olympics. Official competition begins on Saturday.

Russian authorities have spent an estimated $2 billion to shore up security in advance of the Sochi Olympics. Analysts have warned of possible attacks against targets such as train stations.