Updated - Maltese flag paraded at Sochi Games opening

Updated - Adds video - The Maltese flag was paraded for the first time at the opening of the Winter Olympics this afternoon.

Elise Pellegrin is the only Maltese athlete participating, taking part in the slalom events. 

Pellegrin, 22, lives in France and is eligible to represent Malta because her grandfather is Maltese, having emigrated to France after the war.

The 22-year-old will make her first appearance in Sochi on February 18 when she will be at the starting gate for the first run of the giant slalom at the Rhosa Khutor Centre.

Three days later, Pellegrin will make her second showing in the women’s slalom.

The Games got off to a shaky start when one of the five Olympic rings failed to open, meaning the symbol could not be illuminated with fireworks as planned.

In what appeared to be a technical glitch, five giant snowflake-shaped structures suspended from the roof of the 40,000-capacity Fisht Stadium in Sochi failed to unfurl into a circle, and the sequence had to be abandoned.

The show went on with no further interruptions, and cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who has spent more days in space than anyone, hoisted the Russian flag as performers dressed in glowing red, blue and white lights formed a living flag.

Athletes emerged from beneath the stage up a ramp for the traditional parade, and a giant satellite image of each nation taken from space was projected onto the floor.

The crowd cheered them around the track, and light boxes on seats in the stands created a dazzling visual backdrop.

Before the symbol hiccup, a young girl in white dress soared into the air, lifted by a harness, and sang as islands representing different parts of Russia with folktale scenes drifted dreamlike across the stadium.

The state-of-the-art arena, one of several construction projects that have swelled the budget of the Winter Games to a record $50 billion, holds 40,000 people, and President Vladimir Putin was joined by more than 40 world leaders.

Millions more will watch on television and via the Internet as Russia hosts its first Winter Olympics, an event Putin has staked his reputation on.

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