The Vancouver Olympic opening ceremony began with a moment of silence to honour the memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger who was tragically killed during a test run on Friday morning.
The ceremony was dedicated to Kumaritashvili, and his Georgian teammates wore black scarves and armbands. A black ribbon was also put on the Georgian flag.
With heavy hearts for a fallen team mate, the Georgia Olympic team marched into BC place to a standing ovation from the crowd.
No smiles were drawn, no waves of happiness seen, just respect and sombre faces on athletes that had lost one of their countrymen.
IOC President Jacques Rogge expressed his profound sadness for the loss of Kumaritashvili during his speech, while Vancouver Olympics Chief Executive John Furlong hoped that the rest of the Olympic athletes would carry the athlete’s dream in their hearts for the rest of the Games.
Kumaritashvili seemed to lose control of his luge board while turning a corner during a test run Friday morning and was sent flying into a metal pole at a high speed.
The unexpected death sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world and dampened spirits on what was supposed to be a day of joy and excitement.
Olympic tragedy is nothing new to Winter Olympics in Canada though. During the 1988 Calgary Games, Jorg Oberhammer, who was the chief doctor of the Austrian Olympic team, was killed by a snow-clearing machine after he had collided with a skier.