IOC President Thomas Bach has said he expects the Sochi Olympics to be "a great Games." However, there are also significant concerns about security.
Prior to Friday's opening ceremony at Sochi's newly built Fisht stadium, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach was optimistic that the first Games to be held since he took the post would be a major success.
"We can expect a great Games. The stage is set. The sun is shining on the Games and the athletes," Bach told reporters in the Black Sea resort, brushing off criticism about Russia's human rights record and concerns over security.
The athletes "will have the best conditions possible for great achievements here in Sochi," he said.
Bach was speaking at the end of a three-day IOC session in Sochi, in which officials reviewed preparations for the Winter Games. He also met with Sochi organizers, who have been scrambling to solve what Bach described as "a small hiccup here or there." Among the issues organizers are trying to resolve are hotels that weren't ready in time.
Just hours earlier, new concerns about security were highlighted when the US Transportation Security Administration said it was temporarily banning carry-on liquids, aerosols, gels and powders on non-stop flights between Russia and the United States.
The items would still be permitted on flights, a Department of Homeland Security official told news organization ABC, but could only be carried in checked luggage.
The ban follows a US warning to airports and airlines flying to Russia of the possibility that terrorists may seek to transport explosive-making material inside toothpaste tubes which could be detonated either during flights or at the actual games.
Russian security forces had already been on high alert for possible terror threats in the weeks leading up to the games. Fears of attacks at the Olympics were raised in December when suicide bombers killed 34 people in the Russian city of Volgograd, 400 miles (700 km) northeast of Sochi.
Tens of thousands of Russian security forces have been deployed to prevent potential attacks ahead of the official opening of the games on Friday.
pfd/dr (dpa, Reuters, AP)