Vancouver Shows True Heart
Vancouver welcomed the world to the XXI Olympic Winter Games on Friday night with an Opening Ceremony that showcased Canadian culture and the unifying power of sport.
Athletes entered BC Place arena to drumming and dancing by representatives of the Four Host Nations and other aboriginal people. The roster of well-known Canadian performers included Nelly Furtado, k.d. lang, Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan and Garou. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky had the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron, ending a torch relay that had travelled more than 45,000 kilometres through Canada
The capacity crowd in rose for a spontaneous standing ovation as athletes from the Georgian National Olympic Committee entered the stadium wearing black armbands in remembrance of luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili, who had died in a training accident earlier in the day.
Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, and John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organising Committee, offered their condolences in a joint statement, and the Olympic and Canadian flags were lowered to half-mast for Kumaritashvili during the Ceremony.
The shared emotion added to the feeling of global solidarity, as athletes and spectators from around the world prepared for 16 days of competition.