TURIN, Italy, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Thousands of athletes and fans were in attendance Friday night at the Opening Ceremony for the 20th Winter Olympics at Turin, Italy.
A projected two billion spectators viewed the event on television around the world.
United States First Lady Laura Bush was also in attendance. Legendary Italian skier Alberto "Tomba the Bomb" Tomba carried the Olympic torch into the Olympic Stadium. It was passed off four times before Italian cross country skier and multiple Olympic medalist Stefania Belmondo ignited the Olympic Cauldron by placing the flame on an apparatus in the stadium.
The cauldron, the tallest in the history of the Olympics at almost 190 feet, burned while fireworks were set off. The ceremony included a closing performance by Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi declared the Games open.
"Your achievements will inspire and motivate future generations," International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told the Olympic athletes, before adding, "Please compete cleanly, without using doping."