Arctic relay kick-starts Russia's Olympics
Russia has started its 100-day countdown to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi by making history and taking the Olympic flame to the North Pole for the first time ever.
The flame was handed over between torchbearers after a dramatic run across arctic ice.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach promised an "unforgettable" event despite a growing controversy over gay rights.
Preparations for the Sochi Olympics have been overshadowed by international criticism of a recently enacted Russian law banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors."
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However, Russian president Vladimir Putin has promised that gay athletes and guests at the Winter Olympics in Sochi will feel at ease, seeking to calm fears fuelled by the recent law change.
Speaking at a meeting with heads of Russian winter sports federations, which was also attended by Mr Bach, Mr Putin said Sochi would be fully tolerant.
"On my own and on your behalf, I have assured Mr President (Bach) that we will do our best, and our athletes and fans will do their best too, so that both participants and guests feel themselves comfortable at Sochi Olympics regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation," he said.
Mr Bach said he was confident that Russia will deliver a successful games. Making his first trip to Sochi since being elected head of the IOC last month, he told Mr Putin he was deeply impressed with the work Russia has done to prepare for the event in February.
When asked if there would be enough snow for the Games, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak, who is in charge of preparations for the Olympics, said organisers have stored 24.7 million cubic feet of snow as a contingency plan in case of lack of snowfall at the balmy resort.