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Xi Jinping Attends The Opening Ceremony of Sochi Winter Olympics
2014-02-08

By the Black Sea, under the palm trees, passion goes with snow and ice, competition and friendship sing together. At 8:14pm on February 7 local time, or 0:14am on February 8 Beijing time, the 22nd Winter Olympic Games grandly opened in Sochi, Russia. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The whole ceremony lasted for nearly three hours, and ended at 3:00am on February 8 Beijing time.

Xi Jinping's attendance of the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics was the first time that the Chinese head of state attended a major international sporting event held outside China. It is also that for the second consecutive year, Xi Jinping starts his first visit abroad of the year with Russia as the destination. It shows that China highly values and supports the international Olympic Games, as well as the high level and distinctiveness of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. The day before the opening ceremony, the two heads of state held the first meeting this year. They reached new important consensus while planning and making deployment for the development of China-Russia relations.

As the audience cheerfully chanted the countdown, the hands of the clock points to 20:14, and the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics began.

Delegations from 87 countries and regions successively marched into the Fisht Olympic Stadium. Tong Jian, the figure skater, held the national flag of China, leading the Chinese delegation into the stadium. They received a warm welcome from the audience. Xi Jinping stood up and gave a big applause while waving his hand to the Chinese Olympic athletes.

China sent a delegation of 138 members this time. 65 players will participate in 49 events of 9 disciplines in 4 sports. Since the first attendance of the Winter Olympics in 1980, China has won a total of 9 gold medals, 18 silver medals and 17 bronze medals over the previous nine Winter Olympic Games. At the Vancouver Winter Olympics four years ago, the Chinese delegation ranked the 7th, winning 5 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 4 bronze medals, entering the top 8 spot in the medal tally for the first time, realizing a historic breakthrough. At this Winter Olympics, the Chinese athletes will strive to win medals in short-track speeding skating, freestyle skiing, figure skating, speed skating and other dominant events.

China has announced that Beijing and Zhangjiakou will jointly bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Chinese athletes, with their performance at the Sochi Winter Olympics, will contribute to China's bid to host the Winter Olympics.

On the opening day, Xi Jinping visited the Chinese sports delegation and conveyed to the Chinese athletes the attention, care and support from the people of the motherland. He encouraged them to carry forward the Olympic spirit and China's sportsmanship and to strive to win honors for the country.

The delegation of Russia, the host country, was the last to appear. They received fervent cheers from the whole audience. At this Winter Olympics, the Russian delegation is the largest in history with 223 athletes.

Following the march-in ceremony, the large-scale performance themed "Dreams of Russia", was unveiled.

President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. Bach thanked Russia for hosting the Winter Olympics, and expressed his belief that this Winter Olympics will be a grand gathering of unity, inclusiveness, harmony and peace.

At 22:26, Vladimir Putin announced the opening of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games.

The Olympic torch lighting ceremony marks the peak of the opening ceremony. The holy flame of this Winter Olympics, collected from Mount Olympus in Greece, entered into the opening ceremony after travelling over 65,000 kilometers in more than four months. During the relay inside Russia, the torch reached the Arctic on the nuclear-powered icebreaker, realized the "space walk" for the first time, climbed Europe's highest peak Mount Elbrus, and dived into the Lake Baikal, the world's deepest freshwater lake. The Olympic torch blazed and lit up the night sky of Sochi.

Around 2,800 plus athletes from 87 delegations will compete in 98 events of 15 disciplines in 7 sports. This Winter Olympics thus becomes the biggest Winter Olympics with the most events in history.

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