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Olympic Opening Ceremony

Sochi Organizers Promise a Shortened, Less ‘Boring’ Opener

SOCHI, Russia — Don’t expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to jump out of a helicopter, the way a stunt-double Queen Elizabeth II did at the last Olympics, but organizers of Friday night’s opening ceremony in Sochi are promising some surprises.

For one thing, the ceremony will be shorter — about two and a half hours, said the show’s chief creative producer, Konstantin Ernst, the director general of Russia’s Channel One television network.

“If the ceremony lasts for five hours, it’s a very painful experience, even though you may enjoy some parts of it,” he told reporters Friday morning in Sochi.

He promised a focus on Russian classical music along with more modern acts, including the Russian dance-pop duo tATu, which stirred controversy a decade ago when its two members, then teenage girls, sometimes stripped and kissed on stage.

The parade of nations, which Ernst said was traditionally “one of the longest and most boring parts of the ceremony,” will look a little different this time, with special flooring and a giant screen projection of the earth.

“You’re going to sort of fall down on that country, and the athletes will appear from the heart of their countries’ territory,” he said.

There was no word on the most closely guarded secret of any Olympic opening ceremony — who will light the cauldron.

“I hope that we will have a surprise for you,” Ernst said. “But we’re not going to feature any of the topics that will be interesting for Russians only. We’re not going to burden our foreign spectators with that.”

The opening ceremony, from Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, airs Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.