Olympics: 2010 Winter Games declared open

VANCOUVER: The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics were declared open on Friday by Canadian governor general Michaelle Jean.

"I declare open the Games of Vancouver, celebrating the 21st Winter Olympic Games," said Jean to a packed crowd of 60,000 people in the domed BC Place stadium after a colourful ceremony.

In his opening address, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge paid tribute to Canadians and urged all athletes to be aware of their responsibility as role models.

"Here we are back in Canada for the third time in the history of the Olympic Games. After Montreal and Calgary, it is now the turn of the West Coast of this wonderful sports loving nation to host the world''s athletes," said Rogge.

"Thank you Canada for this great loyalty to the Olympic ideals.

"Dear athletes, these Games belong to you ... so give them the magic that we all desire through your performances and your conduct.

"Remember that you are role models for the youth of the world. There is no glory without responsibility."

The Games will see some 2,500 athletes from 82 nations compete from February 12-28.