T-minus one day until 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

T-minus one day until 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

VANCOUVER, B.C.- On the night of Friday, Feb. 12 the lights will go down inside Vancouver's BC Place and the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics will begin in full. BC Place has a 55,000 person capacity and is expected to be filled to the brim, with hundreds of millions of others watching on televisions around the world.  

What happens next is anyone's guess, as the Vancouver Olympic Committee is keeping tight tabs on their plans. The biggest question regarding the opening ceremony? Who will be the final torch bearer. Some believe it could be Wayne Gretzky, others say it will Steve Nash. The Department of Canadian Heritage, a branch of Canada's federal government, has its own ideas.  

The DCH is the single largest contributor to both the Olympic Torch Relay and the Opening Ceremony, at $25 million and $20 million respectively. That department has said it wants an "aboriginal", or native, Canadian to be the final torch bearer. That would count out Gretzky. The decision is up to VANOC which has unofficially said that probably won't happen.  

What you can probably expect is for organizers to draw on British Columbia's dense natural history and dwell on the region's thirty groups of "First Nations People".  

The ceremony officially begins when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper joins the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, giving each the opportunity to speak. After that, one athlete from each country will be honored as the flag bearer. The most recent American winter athlete to have this honor, long-track speedskater Chris Witty. He carried the flag into Torino's Stadio Olimpico in the 2006 Games.  

Each delegation will enter BC Place in alphabetical order, with two exceptions. Greece, by tradition, always enters first and then Canada, the host country, enters last.  

The first medaled events start Saturday with Alpine Skiing, the Biathlon, Freestyle Skiing, Short Track Speedskating, Speedskating, and Ski Jumping.

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