- The Winter Games in Sochi is already the most expensive Olympics in sporting history, costing £31.8billion
- The Sochi opening ceremony will begin at 4.14pm GMT (8.14 local time) on Friday
- The spectacular show will feature ‘faux-lesbian’ singers tATu and allegedly Putin’s gymnast girlfriend
- Journalists have reported of construction disasters ahead of the games with non existent hotelrooms
- Others have tweeted pictures of ‘beer coloured water’ unfinished buildings and lack of pillows
By Sara Malm
The most expensive Olympics the world has ever seen has officially started – and considering the price tag of the games, the expectations are high.
The Winter Olympics 2014 kicked off at the Black Sea resort of Sochi with a spectacular opening ceremony, starting with a small girl asleep being swept up in the air with the help of a kite.
The backstory is that she dreams of Russia and that her dream will take us on a journey of the land. Four kilometres of rail has been laid out on the roof of the Fisht Olympic Stadium to support nine giant floats, representing different parts of the Russian Federation.
The opening ceremony started at 4.14pm GMT (8.14pm local time) and in attendance are dozens of world leaders, however Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron are all notably absent.
The first glitch in the plan came just a few minutes in, when gigantic snowflakes meant to unfold into the five Olympic rings descended from the roof and only four actually worked.
However not even this failure seemed to amuse Princess Anne, who opened up a good book and started reading in the middle of the opening ceremony.
Scroll down for our interactive Winter Olympic Games 2014 timetable and video
Off with a bang: Fireworks are seen over Olympic Park during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics
The only snow in Sochi: Five gigantic snowflakes descended from the roof over a choir of hundreds of men and women in traditional Russian clothing
Sochi problem: However, one of the gigantic glowing snowflakes failed as the four others opened up in an attempt to form the Olympic rings
Controversial: Noughties popstars Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina of t.A.T.u. are a controversial choice of entertainment considering that their image was built up on a faked lesbian relationship
One is not particularly amused: The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, did not seem to find the spectacle at the Fisht Olympic Stadium interesting enough, so went into her bag to grab a good book instead
What a trip: A member of Austria’s delegation lies on the ground after falling over in the middle of the stadium during the country’s entry walk at the Opening Ceremony
The games will last for 16 days, and nearly 100 medals will be handed out to athletes from across the globe.
Sochi 2014 organisers say 66 leaders, including heads of state and international organisations, will make an appearance the ceremony, with the United Nations’ secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and the respective leaders of China and Japan joining Russian president Vladimir Putin in the VIP box.
A £32billion price tag demonstrates that no expense has been spared in staging the Games on the Black Sea coast, with impressive venues in the mountains and a compact purpose-built Olympic Park on the coast.
- Google takes a stand on Russia’s anti-gay law with rainbow-coloured Sochi doodle and statement calling for equal-rights
- The final touches: Volunteers, athletes and President Putin gear up for Sochi Winter Olympics on the eve of Games curtain-raiser
- It’s all about Putin! Russia’s leader has splashed $51bn on these Games (just a shame my TV doesn’t work)
- Liquids and gels BANNED from hand luggage on flights heading to Russia amid toothpaste tube bomb fears
Around 2,900 athletes are set to compete in 15 disciplines starting on Saturday, switching the focus from concerns over security, human rights and last-minute hitches to the sporting action.
The opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium has been designed to showcase to the world the ultimate achievement of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The ceremony will focus on Russia and Olympic ideals of sportsmanship and achievement. The ceremony’s director, Konstantin Ernst, promised ‘relatively simple metaphors’ – and no obscure references, like the NHS nurses in the London Games’ opening ceremony, which he called one of the most ‘incomprehensible’ moments in Olympic history.
Most of today’s performance will instead lean on Russia’s rich classical music traditions, with piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev performing and opera soprano Anna Netrebko singing the Olympic anthem.
Pride of Britain: Britain’s flag-bearer Jon Eley leads the Team GB contingent onto the stadium during the opening ceremony
Our boys and girls: Short track speed skater Eley heads a cheering Team GB in dark blues and reds, waving the Union flag as the walk onto the stadium to applause
Stern faces: Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from right, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, centre, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, third from left, attend the opening ceremony
Happy waves: Putin and IOC President Thomas Bach greet the audience during the Opening Ceremony
Dreamy landscape: The floats each represented one specific area of Russia, and were moved around the Fisht Stadium with the help of four kilometres of rail on the roof
Scenes from some of the seven islands that represent the diversity of Russia float past during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics at the Fisht Olympic Stadium
The opening ceremony began with mellow music, showing a little girl in a small Russian village who is lifted up by a kite in a dreamlike landscape and dreams of the Russian Federation
Get ready, set, go — The sun sets over the Olympic Park before the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi
It has also been confirmed that Russian pop duo tATu will perform at the opening ceremony, something which does not quite rhyme with the anti-LGBT laws recently passed in the country.
The group rose to fame in the early Noughties with the song All The Things She Said, and performed a faux-lesbian act which saw teenage singers Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina wear school girl outfits in a music video so sexually charged it was banned from pre-watershed music show CD:UK on ITV.
The event’s producer said tATu’s ‘Not Gonna Get Us’ was chosen because it’s one of the only Russian pop songs that international viewers might recognize.
Mr Ernst also argued that the choice was about motivating athletes with an upbeat dance song that challenges competitors by saying ‘you’re not going to get us.’
While the singers put on a lesbian act, they have not championed gay rights and it is largely seen as an attention-getting gimmick.
It contrasts with the very real anger over a Russian law banning gay ‘propaganda’ aimed at minors that is being used to discriminate against gays.
Some world leaders and activists have protested the law, and President Barack Obama is skipping the opening ceremony and sending a delegation that includes prominent gay athletes instead.
The show will be focused on TV audiences, with projections onto the stadium floor, so fans in the stands won’t enjoy the full effect.
Asked whether Putin might arrive at the ceremony from the air, like stunt actors playing James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II did at in London, Ernst said, ‘it’s hardly worth hoping for that.’
The Winter Games ceremony is generally a more low-key event than the summer opener. Ernst said organizers tried to keep it from dragging out too long, since most viewers only care to watch their own team and its key rivals.
Let the Games begin: As the sun sets over the Olympic park, fans are flocking to the Fisht Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of Sochi 2014
Fisheye in Fisht: In a photo taken with a fisheye lens, spectators arrive at the Fisht Olympic Stadium prior to the start of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics
True dedication: A Canadian fan has got the Olympic rings shaved into his hair to show his love for the Winter Games which starts tonight
Probably not the Daft Punk song: The Ministry of Internal Affairs choir sings ‘Get Lucky’ during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium
Let’s get started: Pre-show hosts Ivan Urgant, left, and Yana Churikova arrive during for the non-televised part of the show at Fisht Olympic Stadium
It has also been rumoured that Putin’s alleged girlfriend may be lighting the Olympic flame at the Fisht Stadium near the Black Sea.
Although it has never been confirmed Alina Kabayeva, a 2004 Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion, is thought to be Putin’s lover since he split up with his wife last year.
Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak has said that the Olympics in Sochi will be ‘just as safe as Boston’, less than one year after the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.
The bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, killed three and injured an estimated 264 people, when two Chechen nationals, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, detonated two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line.
Mr Kozak said Russia can guarantee the safety of people attending the Sochi Games as efficiently as any other government hosting a major event.
‘I believe that warnings about Sochi, about Russia were superfluous, and the threat levels in Sochi are just like they are in Boston or London,’ he said.
‘I would like to reiterate that security in Sochi will be no worse than in New York, London, Washington or Boston.’
Getting ready to rumble: Britain’s James Woods takes a jump during ski slopestyle training at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in Krasnaya Polyana on Friday
Russian pride: Local fans wave as they arrive at the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
The shiny veneer: The snow-covered Caucasus Mountains are visible behind the Iceberg Skating Palace and its palm trees, a result of subtropical Sochi being on the same latitude as Southern France, inside Olympic Park
Sochi has already had a bumpy start as journalist arrived to unfinished hotels, sewage spilling out of the taps and water ‘too dangerous to use on your face’ – and those were the lucky ones who even got a room.
Journalists checking in were left stunned as they arrived for bookings made last summer to be told they would have to wait indefinitely.
The few that did get rooms, were met with stray dogs, half-built walls, and toxic yellow water spitting from the sinks.
SOCHI OPENING CEREMONY
The opening ceremony starts at 8.14pm local time (4.14pm GMT and 11.14am EST) and will be broadcast live on BBC2 from 3.30pm.
The Sochi 2014 website will offer a live streaming of the opening ceremony.
One hotel lobby had no floor – but staff had found time to hang a framed photo of Vladimir Putin.
One reporter was told to wait a day for their room, which had no running water, no internet – and no door to access it.
Nearby, hotel managers advised guests not to splash water on their faces as it ‘contains something dangerous’ and despite having booked 11 rooms five months ago, CNN’s team were told to share one.
In response to the shocking conditions, Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak attempted to argue that the images and tweets were a deliberate attempt by journalists to paint Russia in a bad light.
When confronted about the conditions in accommodations, Mr Kozak said he had proof of ‘sabotage’ on surveillance footage from hotel rooms.
‘We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day,’ Mr Kozak said.
Judged by the eyes of the world: Judges watch an attempt during the men’s normal hill ski jumping training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday
Getting ready for tonight: A performer rehearses a dance at the Ded Moroz Residence, home of the Russian Santa, at Olympic Park prior to the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics
On thin ice: Evgeni Plushenko of Russia during his performance in the Team Men Short Program of figure skating and Zhang Hao (bottom) and her partner Peng Cheng of China, compete during the Team Short Program Pairs of Figure Skating
What a dolly day! A competitor makes a jump in front of a matryoshka doll during snowboard Slopestyle training at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park
Hard to pull off: A Japanese speed skater trains with her team as the eyes of the world rest on the Black Sea resor
A spokesman for Kozak later told the Wall Street Journal that the deputy premier had misspoke and there were no surveillance cameras inside hotel bathrooms.
In a bid to make the area presentable to welcome in people from around the world, the animals are being fed poison on the streets and left to die.
The action, sanctioned by Putin, involves rounding up stray animals, feeding them poison, and leaving them on the streets to die.
The strategy has outraged animal rights activists – and baffled journalists arriving in Sochi this week who claim the city is brimming with ailing dogs.
The shocking images and anecdotes comes after it emerged Russia exceeded its budget by millions and has ended up spending more than $52billion (£31.8billion) on the games.
Meanwhile, a top U.S. counterterrorist official says there are ‘a number of specific threats’ aimed at the Winter Olympics- with the greatest danger coming from the Caucasus Emirate, which has threatened to attack the games.
Russia has mounted a massive security operation for the Olympics, deploying more than 50,000 police and soldiers amid threats from Muslim insurgents.
The man in charge: Russian President Vladimir Putin awaits the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday afternoon at his newly built Bocharov Ruchey state residence in Sochi
Fans arriving: A United States spectator wears a fuzzy hat decorated with the U.S. and Russian flags, as well as the Communist hammer and sickle during men’s and women’s downhill practice
The opening ceremony is not until Friday, but the sparse attendance does not bode well for the Sochi games
Protection in place: Heavily-armed Russian military flash a thumbs up while patrolling Olympic Park prior to opening ceremony
The athletes hoping to take the spotlight from the logistics disaster, include Short Track speed skater Jon Eley who is Great Britain’s flag bearer for the opening of a Games.
Team GB have been set a target of winning at least three medals in Sochi and Lizzy Yarnold, who tops the current skeleton rankings, is arguably the strongest bet to deliver.
Yarnold’s Skeleton team-mate Shelley Rudman, the men’s and women’s curling teams skippered by David Murdoch and Eve Muirhead respectively, freestyle skiing slopestylers James Woods and Katie Summerhayes and short track speed skater Elise Christie are other strong medal prospects.
The host nation will also be determined to challenge towards the top of the medals table, having finished in a lowly 11th place in Vancouver.
Norway, Canada and the United States are most likely to be battling it out to top the medals table in Sochi.
Making their first appearance at the Winter Olympics will be women’s ski jump, luge team relay and biathlon mixed relay, and five gold medals will be competed for on Saturday in snowboarding, where Britain’s Jamie Nicholls will compete in the final, speedskating, biathlon, cross-country skiing and freestyle skiing.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2553709/They-havent-managed-bu
Tags: Angela Merkel, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Evgeni Plushenko, faked lesbian relationship, Fisht Olympic Stadium, IOC President Thomas Bach, Lena Katina, Peng Cheng, Princess Anne, Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia, Sochi Winter Olympics, Vladimir Putin, Winter Olympic Games 2014, Yulia Volkova, Zhang Hao