SOCHI, Russia (AFP) - Russian television chief Konstantin Ernst admitted that TV pictures of the Olympic rings glitch at Friday's opening ceremony were doctored but that it was an open secret.
The ceremony, beamed to an estimated TV audience of two billion, got off to a rocky start when one of five illuminated snowflakes suspended above the Fisht stadium and that were supposed to morph into the five Olympic rings failed to materialise.
That left the embarrassing sight of four giants rings and one smaller snowflake dangling in a corrupted representation of the Olympic movement's defining symbol.
But Mr Ernst brushed off the incident and explained that organisers had already prepared for such an emergency after sweating for three weeks to get the image just right.
"The pictures were not edited. There was a version that you saw in the crowd and a version that viewers saw," said Mr Ernst, the powerful boss of Russia's Channel One TV.
"We realised that the fifth ring was not going to light up so the mobile TV van sent a signal to the station and we decided to use footage we had already shot before.
"It's not a scandal - it's an open secret. It took us three weeks to make it work. One component failed but it did not insult anyone."
The charismatic Mr Ernst even turned to Buddhism to support his claims.
"There is a saying that you have to kick out the uneven part of a perfectly polished ball to understand how perfect it is," he said.
"That was the ceremony. It allowed us to show how perfect the rest of the show was."
Mr Ernst brought rousing applause from Russian reporters when he denounced western media for trying to liken the technical failure to the ability of Russia to put on an Olympic Games.
"It is ridiculous to concentrate on one snowflake; it did not stop people from enjoying the show. Many people thought Russia could not put on such a sophisticated show.
"This showed the new Russia and how different we are from the previous years."
Mr Ernst also admitted he was aware that Turkey had scrambled an F-16 jet to force down an airliner from Ukraine when an apparently drunk would-be hijacker ordered it to Sochi.
The Ukrainian man, brandishing what he said was a detonator, tried to gain access to the cockpit of the aircraft operated by Turkey's Pegasus Airlines with 110 people on board, officials said.
The Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported that the man, 45, was inebriated and had neither a gun nor explosives.
"I knew of it but I didn't want the performers in the ceremony to be distracted. We had enough adenaline in our veins already," said the 53-year-old Ernst.