The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have officially started, kicking off more than two weeks worth of competitions from the best in the world. Still, the opening ceremony remains a can't-miss event that should be viewed by everyone around the world.
In order to preserve the excitement, NBC has decided not to air the traditional ceremony until prime time so everyone in the United States has a chance to see it. Unfortunately, this will be eight-and-a-half hours after the actual event in Russia.
The good news is that there are no winners or losers in the opening ceremonies, so there is little that can be spoiled for those watching on delay. This means you still get to sit back and enjoy the entertainment like it is happening in real time.
Here is a look at all the information you need heading into the NBC run of the opening ceremony.
What: 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony
When: Friday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. local; 11 a.m. ET; 4 p.m. GMT
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia
TV (U.S.): NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
While many of the features of the opening ceremony are the same as every other Olympics, it does not take away from the excitement.
One of those traditional events is the parade of nations, where every single athlete competing gets a chance to walk across the stage with his or her country. It is a great honor for those involved in the competition, and it signifies the hard work that it took to get to this point, regardless of what they do the rest of the week.
Greece will start things off, as it always does—an honor given to the country as the creators of the modern Games in 1896. As the host country, Russia will be the final team to go across the floor.
The rest of the teams will go in alphabetical order, but the United States will not be as far back as you might think, according to Brandon Veale of the Daily Mining Gazette:
Of course, Team USA should be easy to spot in their Ralph Lauren outfits, courtesy of Yahoo!:
There were certainly mixed feelings about the uniforms, but at the very least, the athletes will be warm in their sweaters.
Leading the way for the Americans will be someone who is familiar with this ceremony:
Todd Lodwick has competed in alpine skiing since the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. It is a great honor to hold the flag, but he better make sure not to dip it toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, or else he will be breaking federal law, according to Martin Rogers of Yahoo.
Putin will be one of a number of world leaders present at the event, along with Xi Jinping of China and Shinzo Abe of Japan, according to Shaun Walker of The Guardian. However, others will not be in attendance as protest to Russia's anti-gay laws.
United States president Barack Obama will send a group that includes Brian Boitano and Caitlin Cahow. Melissa Murphy of the Associated Press (h/t ABC News) reports that Billie Jean King was supposed to head to Sochi but had to back out to take care of her sick mother.
Still, the biggest part of the opening ceremony is the main show, where Russia showcases the best performers it has to offer.
After a dancing and artistic show of Russian history, the organizers will provide a look at the best musical talents in the country. Producer Konstantin Ernst told CNN's Faith Karimi and Michael Martinez:
Most of the ceremony focuses heavily on Russian classical music.
Unfortunately, unlike London, we cannot boast a plethora of famous world-known pop performers. This is why we are now focusing on what Russia is best known for musically around the world; namely, classical music.
Viktoria Ivanova of the Daily Telegraph provided a spoiler for some of the participants last month, although much of the event has been kept secret:
The Russian Ministry of Culture is expected to announce more details about the organisation of the event next month, but it already seems likely that big stars, such as viola player Yuri Bashmet and conductor Valery Gergiev, will appear.
Pianist Denis Matsuev also announced his involvement, saying: “For sure, I am participating in the Olympics. But how? I will not disclose secrets. Naturally, I will play the piano and root for our athletes.”
The great thing about the opening ceremony is that it is exciting regardless of who shows up, and this year will be no different.
This kickoff will be closed with the lighting of the Olympic torch, signifying the start of what should be a fantastic few weeks of competition.
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