Nightly News   |  February 07, 2014

Welcome to Sochi! Opening Ceremony Kicks Off

Thousands streamed into Olympic Park where U.S. athletes and fans celebrated with selfies as the breathtaking evening got underway.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening, there was more tension leading up to these olympic winter olympics than any such gathering in memory, they are, after all, the most expensive and the most heavily defended by far. and now, tonight, we are finally, thankfully under way here. just as the opening games at the summer olympics were very british, as you can see tonight these games are getting off to a very russian theme start. the game today feels very spirited. but as we'll talk about tonight there was a scare that reminded us all of the high security stakes. first, however, the command that has gone out to let these games begin. nbc's kevin tibbles has more.

>> reporter: brian, before, sochi was just a sleepy little time on the banks, but today, they welcomed the world with a little color and oh, yes, a little controversy mixed in. the big show has come to sochi . and thousands streamed into the olympic park with smiles and cheers and a russian greeting for visitors.

>> welcome to sochi !

>> reporter: after the metal detectors and bag checks a daily ritual, it took those today attending the opening ceremony a few minutes just to get to the stadium.

>> i don't want to be late.

>> reporter: security ever present, sometimes even friendly. inside, a spectacle about a proud people, many celebrating with selfies. and todd lodwick as well. just one noticeable glitch, one of the olympic rings failed to materialize. among those who carried the torch of the olympic torch , rumored to be linked to the president. although the relationship has never been confirmed. she handed it off to one of the most decorated figure skaters in russia , a national hero who has drawn international criticism for a doctored photo she tweeted of president obama last year that many considered racist. but for those in attendance, a breath-taking evening. tennis star and sochi hometown hero maria sharapova also carried the torch, she expects russia to win.

>> knowing our history of dance and culture, we enjoy a great performance.

>> and a great party?

>> yes, and a party, with a couple of vodka shots.

>> reporter: russia 's olympic coming out party is under way, the most expensive games in history. under the big top in sochi . and fears of empty seats in the olympic stadium seem to be a bit premature. the place was filled to the rafters. and of course those waiting to watch the show, the big show tonight. a couple of highlights that i noted brian, being in there, one, the jamaica bobsled team got a great cheer. their gear finally showed up and they walked into the building. and of course, when team russia showed up, the roof came up.

>>> and kevin tibbles starting us off.