What you did not know about Sochi Winter Olympics
The two-week long 2014 Winter Olympics opens in Sochi, Russia on Friday.
But the host country has been in the spotlight, even before the Games have begun, for all the wrong reasons.
In the run-up to the Games, issues like Russia’s policies towards the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, facilities for the athletes, and safety -- in an area that has traditionally been a hotbed of conflict -- came under close scrutiny.
These negatives apart, there a lot of other interesting trivia about Sochi that is to be explored.
Rediff.com reveals some fascinating facts about the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games will be the first time that the Russian Federation have hosted the Winter Games. The Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.
Click NEXT to know more about the Sochi Winter Games...
Image: Amanda Lightfoot of Great Britain shoots during a Biathlon training session ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
Photographs: Harry How/Getty Images
The Hare, the Polar Bear, and the Leopard have been chosen as the official mascots of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
The leopard received 28 per cent votes, while the polar bear won 18 per cent, and the hare 16 per cent.
A Ray of Light and a Snowflake were selected by a jury of Paralympians to be the mascots of the Paralympic Games.
Image: Aimee Fuller and Jamie Nicholls of the Great Britain Snowboard Team joke around on the official mascots
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
12 events debuting
There will be twelve events debuting at the Sochi Games.
A majority of the events actually originated at the Winter X Games, home of exciting, crazy feats of athleticism.
With these 12 new events, Sochi will have a total of 98 medal-winning categories, making this the largest Winter Olympics to date.
Image: Olympic rings are displayed
Photographs: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Competitions will be held before Opening ceremony
A team event was added to the figure skating program for 2014, requiring the competition to start a day before the Opening ceremony.
This will be the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics that competitions will be held before the Opening ceremony.
Image: Sho Endo of Japan in action during a training session
Photographs: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Sochi Olympic torch, first to travel in space
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch is the first to travel in space, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan, on November 7, aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M manned Soviet-designed spaceship and travelling approximately 400km to the International Space Station (ISS).
Image: International Space Station (ISS) crew member Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin holds the torch of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games after landing near the town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan
Photographs: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters
Russia’s Central Bank is printing special Olympic-themed 100-ruble banknotes for the Games.
Image: The Olympic flag is raised by Russian soldiers during the welcoming ceremony for the teams in the Athletes Village
Photographs: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters
Stored 450,000 cubic metres of snow
Russian organisers have stored 450,000 cubic metres of snow from April 2013 in case the winter is mild in 2014.
In February 2013 the Slopestyle test event had to be cancelled due to mild weather conditions so they are leaving nothing to chance for the Olympic Games.
Image: A volunteer shovels ice from the track at the start of the bobsleigh ice track
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters