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Maggie Hendricks

Opening Ceremony has somber start with tribute to Kumaritashvili

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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At the Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony, the Olympic movement took a moment to honor the memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger who was tragically killed while training Friday.

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At the beginning of the Ceremony, an ovation was given to Kumaritashvili, and an announcement was made that the Opening Ceremony was dedicated to Kumaritashvili. Several countries also wore armbands as a tribute.

Kumaritashvili's Georgian teammates wore black armbands and black scarves, and a black ribbon was put on the Georgian flag. Their somber delegation was greeted by a loud cheer and a standing ovation at BC Place.

"Georgia is announced. The crowd begins to clap, and then cheer. Then the lower bowl comes to its feet, as did much of press row. Solid, lingering ovation as they came around the track. Spontaneous too," said Fourth-Place Medal's Greg Wyshinski, who was on-hand at the Ceremony.

The small Georgian delegation appeared to be overwhelmed by the show of support. Some of the eight members cried, while most just kept stone faces.

Later in the ceremony, IOC president Jacques Rogge paid tribute to Kumaritashvili in his speech. The crowd fell silent for a moment before John Furlong, the head of the Vancouver Olympic Committee took the stage. In Furlong's speech, he said that the athletes had the added burden of performing for their fallen comrade, but that they should carry his Olympic dream on their shoulders and his spirit in their heart.

Other stories on Olympic tragedy:
Georgia decides to compete to honor rider
Olympic officials must put safety first
Death is fifth ever at Winter Games

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