Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili has died after a horrendous training accident just hours before the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed.
IOC President Jacques Rogge was quoted by Reuters as saying Georgia was considering its continued participation in the games.
Officials said the 21-year-old Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled on a training run at the Whistler Training Center at more than 140 kilometers per hour and flew over the wall of the course before striking a support.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate Kumaritashvili on site and he was said to be unconscious en route to the hospital.
Organizers immediately suspended training at the facility.
Kumaritashvili was one of eight athletes in Georgia's Olympic delegation.
The 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, were stunned by the death of Swiss Nicolas Bochatay while he was free skiing before the finals in speed skiing, which was a demonstration sport.
The 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, saw the deaths of two competitors, Australian skier Ross Milne and British luge slider Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski, during training.
compiled from RFE/RL and agency reports