Sochi 2014 price tag is bad example but Games are safe

Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:33am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - The $50-billion price tag for the Sochi Olympics is a "bad example" for future candidate cities but Russia's first Winter Games will be secure despite mounting safety concerns, international skiing chief Gian-Franco Kasper said on Friday.

The Swiss sports administrator, who has been critical of the Sochi Games in the past, said such investment in the two-week event and in related infrastructure projects would scare off traditional winter sports nations and damage the brand.

"It is an enormous cost. It could be that Sochi is more expensive than Beijing 2008 which was the much bigger summer Games," International skiing federation (FIS) president Kasper told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Beijing cost an estimated $40 billion though the exact cost of staging the summer Games in China is not known.

"Those costs in Sochi are enormous and a bad example for future candidates. Most nations cannot afford it. Switzerland, France could never afford such amounts. Particularly for winter games," the 69-year-old said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has staked his personal political prestige on staging a successful Olympics, which officials said would cost $50 billion.

Kasper did praise the Russians' ability to construct an entire industry out of the ground and surrounding mountains in less than a decade.


An aerial view from a helicopter shows the Olympic Park under construction in the Adler district of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, December 23, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov