Sochi Winter Olympics set to kick offUpdated: 2014-02-07 17:56:22 KST
The wait is finally over, and with or without controversy, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics kick off on this Friday.
Security has been elevated in the lead-up to the Games, with the U.S. placing temporary restrictions on all liquids from carry-on bags to nonstop flights to Russia.
The ban comes a day after U.S. officials warned explosives could be smuggled on flights in toothpaste or cosmetic tubes by terrorists.
Despite the on-going security concerns, the Olympics organizers said a record 44 world dignitaries will be at the opening ceremony, triple the amount that attended the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Those who will be in attendance include Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukraine's embattled President Viktor Yanukovich.
Many Western leaders have been put off by Russia's anti-gay laws and are skipping the Games - among those not attending the ceremony are U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will be there.
He called for an open and equal Games at a session of the International Olympic Committee on Thursday, saying everyone should join together to fight discrimination against lesbians, gays, or bisexual and transgender people.
Meanwhile, Korea's Ministry of Science, together with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, has unveiled high-resolution images taken by the country's Arirang-3 Satellite of the Sochi Olympic venue.
The pictures show the main stadiums and other sports facilities where the Winter Games will begin with the opening ceremony starting at 1:14 a.m. Saturday, Korea time.
The Sochi Olympics wrap up on February 24th.
Sohn Jung-in, Arirang News.