Competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will begin a day before the opening ceremony — a first for a winter games.
Qualifying events in figure skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding will take place on Feb. 6, 2014, to give organizers "breathing space," IOC sports director Christophe Dubi told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The opening ceremony is Feb. 7 and the games will run to Feb. 23, meaning the games will cover 18 days rather than the standard 17.
The Sochi Games will feature 98 medal events, 12 more than the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Dubi said the early qualifying will be held in the men's and pairs short program in figure skating, women's moguls in freestyle and men's snowboard slopestyle.
The move builds contingency into the packed sports schedule and makes it possible for more athletes to attend the opening ceremony the next day, when no competitions will be held, Dubi said. The first medal events will be held Feb. 8.
Competitions have been scheduled on the day of the opening ceremony at previous Winter Olympics, but this will be the first time events will be held a day before, Dubi said.
Events at the much bigger Summer Games usually start a few days before the opening ceremony. The women's soccer tournament kicked off at the London Olympics on Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremony.
Among the new events approved by the IOC last year for Sochi are women's ski jumping, men's and women's slopestyle, men's and women's ski halfpipe, mixed relay in biathlon and team events in luge and figure skating.