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Vladimir Putin opens 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics in spectacular ceremony

Saturday, 8 March 2014 - 10:30am IST | Place: London | Agency: ANI

  • Artists perform during the Opening Ceremony of the XI Paralympic Olympic games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium close to the city of Sochi, Russia, on March 7, 2014. AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly opened the 2014 Winter Paralympics in a spectacular ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi.

The ceremony, which was themed 'Breaking the Ice', featured music, dance, special effects and fireworks linked by the journey of the firebird, a mythical bird from Russian folklore, which is said to be a symbol of wealth and happiness.

According to the BBC, featured performances came from Yulia Samoylova, the runner-up in the Russian version of the X Factor, Faktor A, who has been in a wheelchair since childhood, and blind accordionist Alexey Levchuk.

The report mentioned that the show culminated in a huge ice scene, featuring an Icebreaker ship crashing easily through blocks of ice, before a spectacular lighting of the flame.

International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven called upon the spectators and fans to have 'barrier-free' minds, adding that the Paralympics will surprise, inspire, excite and change them.

The Great Britain team was led by 15-year-old visually impaired skier Millie Knight, who is making her Paralympic debut as the youngest member of the team.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine team confirmed that they would take part in the Games after fears they would boycott the event following Russia's occupation of Crimea, although the country's Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Suskevich warned that any escalation of military conflict would result in the team leaving Sochi.

Action starts on Saturday and runs until Sunday 16 March and the Games will feature 547 athletes from a record 45 countries for the five sports - biathlon, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling, the report added. 

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