The biggest event of the 2014 Winter Olympics is the grandiose opening ceremony, which is sure to be a lavish spectacle to start what will be the most intriguing set of Winter Games to date.
The opening ceremony is the event that should draw the most viewers, as even casual fans will want to tune in as the host country puts on a spectacle of supreme hospitality for the visiting athletes from around the globe.
Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia, will have the gaze of the world for one night, and it is an event no one should miss.
What: 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony
When: Friday, Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. ET (8 p.m. Sochi Time)
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia
TV: NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: BBC
Ways to Watch
While NBC will air every event live online rather than relying on the tape-delayed broadcasts of the past, the opening ceremony itself will not be available live anywhere for American viewers.
According to Variety senior television editor Brian Steinberg, NBC does not believe the ceremony is suitable for the live-stream format, as it should be enjoyed in a group environment in traditional format:
"We want to put context to it, with the full pageantry it deserves," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group.
He said executives believed an unvarnished live stream of the colorful ceremonies would not make sense without description. What’s more, the company feels the opening-ceremony telecast is enjoyed by families who gather together, making it a natural for the boob-tube.
American viewers will have to wait until 7:30 p.m. ET to catch the taped spectacle. While likely not an ideal scenario, it makes for quality late-night viewing with friends and family rather than an early-morning affair.
For viewers outside of the U.S., the festivities can be streamed live on BBC's website with a proper subscription.
What to Expect
In short, Russia is going all out in what is sure to be a grand spectacle. Fisht Olympic Stadium was built specifically for events such as this and the FIFA World Cup (which it will help play host to in 2018) thanks to its 40,000 seats and unique design.
As the official Sochi Winter Olympics website illustrates, the stadium was specifically designed to give a grand view of mountain ranges and tout a snowy theme:
The design of the "Fisht" Olympic Stadium in Sochi is unique across Russia. For the first time in the construction of a large-scale structure, a translucent polycarbonate roof will be used which will give the building an appearance of snowy peaks, ensuring it sits in harmony with the landscape of the Imeretinskaya Valley and the Caucasus Mountains.
Of course, the stadium is but one part of a lengthy ceremony that revolves around Russia's history and will be littered with special effects and extravagant features, as Lukas I. Alpert of The Wall Street Journal describes:
A fleet of ships under the command of Peter the Great, scenes recreated from Nikolai Gogol’s masterwork “Dead Souls” and a variety of Russian fairy tales will be part of a special effects-laden event that will also feature plenty of ice, reports Russian newspaper Izvestia.
After wow-worthy ceremonies to begin the events in Beijing and London recently, it is apparent that Russia wants to continue the strong tradition that has developed in recent years.
Speaking of tradition, the classic elements of the ceremony are still here, including the signature moment highlighted by the Olympic Torch after the parade of athletes. While celebrities and performances will get a large chunk of the attention, the main spectacle will rightfully be on the athletes themselves.
Regardless of how one views the spectacle, it has the makings of the best opening ceremony yet.