SOCHI, Russia — It was the biggest glitch of the Olympics opening ceremony, and odds are Russia’s president missed it.
Photos taken by The Associated Press show that Vladimir Putin, about to emerge into the Olympic stadium, was facing away from a monitor that showed the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games while it unfolded. He almost certainly didn’t see footage of a glitch that prevented the fifth Olympic ring from lighting up.
Instead, Putin saw spliced-in rehearsal footage showing all five Olympic rings lighting up properly — imagery similar to, if not the same as, that seen by the rest of the Russian public on television.
The photos were taken Friday night by the AP’s David Goldman, who was acting as the pool photographer for international news agencies and working in the presidential lounge where leaders had gathered in the run up to the ceremony.
In a sequence of photos shot by Goldman over several seconds, Putin, waiting to be introduced at the ceremony, is seen turned away from the only two monitors in the lounge and facing a wall of blacked-out windows and a single open door facing the stadium. He is looking down. Behind him and to the left, a big-screen TV shows four of five rings lighting up before it cuts briefly to black, then to a shot of performers.
After a few seconds, an image of all five rings illuminating properly then appears on the TV screen. Putin turns toward the monitor, faces it and looks up, seeing the footage of all five rings.
Moments later, he leaves the suite to face the crowd at Fisht Olympic Stadium.
The rings glitch was shown live on internal Olympic channels when it happened, but the Russian public instead saw spliced footage from one of two rehearsals, held Feb. 1 and 4. In that spliced footage, the Olympic rings lighted up just as planned during a moment that is always pivotal in opening ceremonies.
The image of the unilluminated ring drew scrutiny around the world and produced pointed comments on social media, where many had been questioning whether Russia was truly prepared to host the Olympic Games.