The lighting is traditionally performed by a prominent person from the host country, so Kabaeva would certainly qualify on her own merits. And rumors of her relationship with Putin — who has been single since his divorce last year — have never been officially confirmed.
Alina Kabaeva performs with clubs in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She won the event.
"I’m aware of this (the speculation), I was told of this by (Kremlin spokesman) Dmitry Peskov. These are the usual red herrings,” News.com.au quotes him as saying while he toured a nature reserve near Sochi. "We have many outstanding sportspeople who are significant and known in the whole world, and I am not going to interfere in this process,” he said in comments broadcast on state television.