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Winter Games ceremony underway despite tragedy

india Updated: Feb 13, 2010 09:37 IST

AFP
Highlight Story

The 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony got underway on Friday, on a day overshadowed by the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

The two-and-a-half hour showpiece will end with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at BC Place in Vancouver, in a ceremony held indoors for the first time in the competition's history.

The show was being staged in front of International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, Canadian governor general Michaelle Jean and the chiefs of the Four Host First Nations.

Kumaritashvili was killed after flying off the Olympic luge track at high speed and smashing into a metal pillar during a training run.

The Georgian team considered pulling out of the Games but decided to compete in honour of their teammate.

Their team, wearing black armbands and looking sombre, entered the stadium at a funereal pace to a standing ovation from the 60,000-strong crowd.

Several other teams also donned black armbands.

The ceremony will include several elements in honour of the 21-year-old, organisers said.