(Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)
Sochi has been fraught with problems in the days leading up to the Olympics, but no one issue has been quite so telling of Russia's hosting struggles as a malfunction at its opening ceremony that led to an incomplete set of Olympic rings going up on display. While the ceremony was supposed to feature all five rings growing from small snowflakes into the Olympic logo's five intersecting circles, the top-right ring failed to expand alongside the others, leaving four circles beside what looked almost like an asterisk.
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While that may be a glaring mistake in the ceremony, the full show was apparently quite impressive. "The ambition … is to create the biggest show ever," George Tsypin, the opening ceremony's production designer, tells NBC's Today. Tsypin previously worked on big Broadway musicals, including the ill-fated Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, which suffered myriad problems and delays during production, and recently folded with projected losses of $60 million.
Still, Tsypin planned to shake off that failure by turning his Broadway skill set to the international stage of the 2014 Winter Olympics: his goal for the opening ceremony was reportedly to showcase a millennium of Russian history through traditional music and dance. Though much of the world has already seen how the full production turned out, US audiences will have to wait until tonight — due to NBC's tape delay, it won't be airing until 7:30PM ET.
Update: According to The Associated Press, the rings failed in more ways than one. Originally, they were supposed to erupt into a fireworks display after they opened in unison. From the perspective of Russian TV viewers, however, everything went according to plan, because host broadcaster Rossiya 1 cut away from the failed presentation to successful rehersal footage of the ceremonies when they realized what was happening. Producers told reporters that it was an important move to preserve the imagery of the Olympic Games, and the AP points out that it wouldn't be the first time elements of the ceremonies have been prerecorded to avoid issues.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that the fifth ring was later opened, however it's unclear if this occurred.