Team Poland with flag bearer Dawid Kupczyk enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia, 07 February: photo - EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Forty four heads of state and governments were in the stadium, alongside 40,000 spectators to watch the lavish two and a half hour show - which presented a musical spectacular including key moments in Russia's history - though US president Barack Obama and Germany's Angela Merkel were not among them.
Poland's president Bronislaw Komorowski was also not at the stadium, although he said that his absence was not due to a political boycott.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (center L), Russian President Vladimir Putin (center R) and IOC president Thomas Bach (C) during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia: photo - EPA/BARBARA WALTON
The events over the next two weeks of the Sochi Olympics - which, at a staggering 57 billion euro, is the most expensive international sports event in history - will be contested by 2,500 athletes from 88 countries.
The Polish team is composed of 59 athletes, the largest squad ever to be sent to a Winter Olympics from Poland.
Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk told reporters on Friday he was expecting "at least three gold medals" from the Winter Olympics and was keeping his fingers crossed, particularly, for cross country skier Justyna Kowalczyk to do Poland proud.
Athlete marshals with LED elements in their costumes create the colours of the Russian flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia, 07 February: photo - EPA/TATYANA
Earlier, Russian police arrested four gay rights protesters who unfurled a banner in St
Petersburg on Friday declaring: "Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement", gay rights group All Out said, Reuters reports.
President Vladimir Putin has been criticized by the UN and others over a law banning the spread of "gay propaganda" among minors.
With security tight on the Black Sea coast following terrorist threats, Poland's foreign ministry issued a statement reminding Polish sports fans visiting the region that as a special security zone had been established around the Olympic facilities and the town of Sochi, "we request all Polish fans who are in Sochi or plan to stay in Sochi to comply with all the security regulations implemented for the duration of the Olympics by the local services".
Although called the Sochi Games, most of the events actually take place in suburbs close to nearby Abkhazia, a disputed territory which considers itself an independent state. (pg)