By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 15 - The body of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the luger who was killed in an horrific training accident here at the Winter Olympics last week, has been flown back home to Georgia.

It left Vancouver Airport this afternoon to travel back to Tbilisi, Georgia's capital.

Earlier today, a simple and intimate memorial service was attended by around 50 people.

Kumaritashvili's coffin was then carried by eight bearers, including Vancouver 2010 chief executive John Furlong, towards the hearse which was to take the Georgian to the airport.

Three Georgian athletes, including figure skater Otar Japaridze, wearing a black armband on his red team jacket, attended the memorial, filing past the open brown casket.

Canadian police outriders escorted the hearse as a mark of respect.

Pat Hickey, the President of the European Olympic Committees, who was representing International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, said it was a solemn occasion.

He said: "There were no speeches.

"People had their own private moment, reflecting on the situation.

"Everyone was so unified standing around sharing in the sorrow."

Kumaritashvili died last Friday when he lost control of his sled, flew off the course and collided into a metal pillar at trackside during a training run.

Furlong said arrangements had been speeded up due to a "significant desire in this young man's home town to get him home to Georgia".

Kumaritashvili's uncle, Felix, was also his coach and was with him in Vancouver.

Furlong said: "This is a devastated delegation.

"As you can imagine the uncle of the young man is heartbroken.

"There are three athletes on this team from the same class in the same school in Georgia."

The coffin is due to arrive on Wednesday in Bakuriani, a small ski resort of about 1,500 that has been plunged into mourning.

It is due to be met by Patriarch Ilia II, the Georgian spiritual leader.

Ramaz Goglidze, a Georgian Olympic official, said: "For every family in the village, it's a tragedy.

"Even people who never met him cry all day.


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