The costliest Olympic Games in history officially open in Russia on Friday, with a lavish ceremony in Sochi. Security in the resort town and the surrounding Caucasus mountains is tight.
Sochi, on Russia's Black Sea coast, will welcome about 2900 athletes in 15 disciplines as the opening ceremony begins at 8.14pm (local time). Ninety-eight medals will be awarded over the next 16 days.
Some qualifying events have already taken place at a newly built mountain ski field and at the Olympic Park by the sea, the BBC reports.
The slopestyle heats for snowboarders were missing one big star: America's Olympic champion Shaun White dropped out, saying the course was too dangerous.
The build-up has been overshadowed by security fears, human rights concerns and delays to preparations.
But, at $US48.9 billion, the cost of these Games is more than the combined total of all other Olympic Winter Games to date.
Canada, Norway and the United States are considered the likeliest candidates to top the Sochi medal table.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, said intense safety measures are in place including 40,000 people on site for security, and there has been good preparation with intelligence services from other countries including the US and European nations.
"We will do our best to provide for best possible security at the Games," he said,
US president Barack Obama said Russia has an enormous stake in preventing terrorist attacks and America is doing everything it could to help keep athletes safe.
Earlier, US aviation authorities announced a temporary ban on passengers taking liquids in their hand luggage on direct flights to Russia. It followed a warning to airlines that terrorists might try to smuggle explosive material in toothpaste tubes.