IOC eyes Games revamp as Sochi opening nears

Wed Feb 5, 2014 6:35am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - While Sochi scrambles to get ready in time for Friday's opening ceremony, the International Olympic Committee cast its eyes past the most expensive Games ever staged and began to look for ways of revamping the global sporting spectacular.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has staked his personal and political prestige on hosting a successful Games and turning the Black Sea resort into a more attractive tourism destination.

Ratings agency Moody's said in a report on Wednesday that the Sochi Games, which have cost a reported $50 billion, were unlikely to provide much of a boost to the Russian economy.

The IOC, who picked Sochi in 2007 despite it having virtually no venues in place, said it was time to take another look at the cost, size and bidding process for the Games.

Several cities have already pulled out of the race to host the 2022 Winter Games amid concerns about rising costs.

Protests in Brazil ahead of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics have further highlighted the problems associated with hosting mega sports events.

"We believe we should do more to support better bid cities in their engagement," IOC Vice President John Coates said at the start of the IOC session on Wednesday.

"Are we not asking too much too soon (from bid cities)? Should the bidding procedure be more an invitation of potential bidders rather than a tender for a franchise? The cost of the bids concerns us all," the Australian said.   Continued...

Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park during the rehearsal of the opening ceremony at the Adler district of Sochi, February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk