Most of the Ukraine Paralympic athlete delegation did not march at the Opening Ceremony amid the nation’s situation with Russia involving the Crimean peninsula.
Ukraine biathlete Mykhaylo Tkachenko carried his nation’s flag into Fisht Stadium in a wheelchair on Friday night amid loud roars from the crowd. Tkachenko was not joined by any other Ukraine Paralympians for the parade of nations.
The Ukrainian Paralympic Team is made up of 23 athletes, according to The Associated Press, which reported Tkachenko wore a serious expression and displayed no emotion.
Russian president Vladimir Putin later officially opened the Paralympics inside the same stadium.
Russia reportedly made military moves in Crimea beginning Saturday, and the area’s parliament voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia on Thursday. NBC News has full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine situation here.
Earlier Friday, Ukraine Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Sushkevich said if “some acts happen to escalate the conflict … we will leave [Sochi], we will not be able to be here,” according to R-Sport.
Competition at the Paralympics begins Saturday and runs through March 16.
Paralympics broadcast schedule
Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.
Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.
Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.
WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET
On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.
Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice
In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.
The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.
The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.
Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.
MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi