The Winter Olympics were officially opened by Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean in Vancouver on Friday after a ceremony in which the death of an athlete earlier in the day loomed large.

The two-and-a-half hour curtainraiser focused strongly on native aboriginal culture and history in the first indoor ceremony in the 86-year history of the Winter Games.

Nodar Kumaritashvili, a 21-year-old luger from Georgia, died in a training run crash at the Whistler Sliding Center earlier on Friday.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge wore a black tie, and a black stripe was added to the flag of the Georgian team, who said earlier they would continue to compete in the Games in honor of their 'fallen comrade'.

The team also wore black scarves and armbands.

(Editing by Jon Bramley)