Georgian luge hopeful Nodar Kumaritashvili crashes.

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Georgian luge hopeful Nodar Kumaritashvili crashes. Photo: AFP

  • Georgian luge hopeful Nodar Kumaritashvili crashes.
  • Georgian luge hopeful Nodar Kumaritashvili crashes during training.
  • Nodar Kumaritashvili crashes during the men's Luge practise.
  • Emergency workers load Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia into an ambulance.
  • The IOC held a press conference after the tragedy.
  • IOC President Jacques Rogge speaks at an IOC press conference.
  • Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, stands during a moment of silence to honor Nodar Kumaritashvili during the opening ceremony.
  • A message dedicated to Nodar Kumaritashvili appears on a screen at BC Place during the opening ceremony.
  • Candles are lit in memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili who died  after he crashed during a training run.

The Australian team smiled and waved to the crowd of 60,000 as they marched into the Winter Olympic stadium behind their flagbearer, champion snowboarder Torah Bright.

But they soon applauded the much smaller Georgian team, who, dressed in red and wearing black armbands, marched in memory of their countryman Nodar Kumaritashvili.

As a sign of respect the Australian team wore black armbands too.

The Canadian Governor-General Michaelle Jean opened the 21st Winter Olympic Games, then IOC president Jacques Rogge paid tribute to the sport-loving host nation before welcoming the 2500 athletes from 82 nations.

''Dear athletes, these Games belong to you … so give them the magic that we all desire through your performances and your conduct,'' Dr Rogge said. ''Remember that you are role models for the youth of the world. There is no glory without responsibility.''

Bright was already the face of the Australian team before she was honoured as flagbearer.

A two-time Olympian, she placed fifth at the 2006 Games in Turin and will enter her half-pipe event next Thursday as one of the favourites. The 23-year-old from Cooma is among a rare breed of Australians who make a serious living from snow sports. ''I really wish that everyone could hold this flag,'' she said.