An Olympic luge competitor from Georgia, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died on Friday, hours before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games after crashing during training, Canadian paper CBC reported.
Kumaritashvili, 21 was training at the Whistler Olympic Park when he lost control of his sled near the finish, flipped off his sled and was hurled into a metal pole. He was going close to 93 miles/hour (150 km/h) according to the Vancouver Sun.
The athlete was immediately assisted by medical personnel who performed CPR through a plastic tube. He was quickly taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he died, the International Olympic Commitee confirmed.
Our first thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the athlete. The whole Olympic Family is struck by this tragedy, which clearly casts a shadow over these Games, said the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge in a statement.
The tragic death comes amid reports that other competitors have crashed in luge training, according to the Vancouver Sun which named at least two other competitors. The Associated Press noted that more than a dozen athletes have crashed during Olympic training.
The track is the fastest in the world and has raised safety concerns.
Kumaritashvili's accident occurred at the fastest point of the track, according to reports.
This is a terrible accident. This is the gravest thing that can happen in sport, and our thoughts and those of the 'luge family', are naturally with those touched by this event, said the International Luge Federation President Josef Fendt in a statement.
Luge training was suspended indefinitely and members of the ILF were called for a briefing, the Canadian Press reported. Also team captains from each country were asked to attend a meeting.
An investigation was underway into the circumstances of the accident, the IOC said.
A press conference is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST