'Excellent' Sochi Games proved critics wrong, says IOC's Bach

Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:19am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The Sochi Winter Games set records in competitor numbers, medals awarded and quality of venues, keeping athletes happy and proving critics wrong, said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters hours before the Games closing ceremony, Bach, who presided over his first Olympics after taking over as IOC chief last September, said Russian government support and President Vladimir Putin's personal involvement had contributed to the success.

"We saw excellent Games and what counts most is the opinions of the athletes and they were enormously satisfied," he added.

The Games had more than 2,800 athletes from 88 countries -- both records -- and featured 12 new events to attract younger fans and more broadcasters than ever before.

However, the Games also saw six doping cases, five more than at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, though Bach it was proof the system worked.

"The number of cases for me is not really relevant. What is important is that we see that the system works."

"It shows that the IOC is serious with zero tolerance because the athletes have been disqualified from the Games."

He also said critics who had doubted Russia could pull off hosting such an event would now be convinced.   Continued...

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (C) pose with newly elected members of the IOC, Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser (L) and Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, at the IOC session on the final day of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov