Sochi exceeding all expectations, IPC chief says

Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:43am EDT
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By Alexei Anishchuk

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The world Paralympics chief praised Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for staging a "fantastic" Winter Paralympic Games and said the competition in Sochi was on track to become the most successful ever.

"The Games are exceeding all expectations in every single area," International Paralympic Committee President Phil Craven said in a statement on the March 7-16 extravaganza in the Russian Black Sea resort.

In a meeting at Putin's residence in Sochi, Craven said the Games have been well-organized and "attended by amazing crowds, Russian crowds."

"With ... the organizing committee and with your incredible support, we are having fantastic Games here," the Briton told Putin and other Russian officials.

More than 300,000 tickets have been sold for the event, eclipsing the previous Winter Paralympic record of 230,000 sold in Vancouver four years ago, the IPC said.

"To break the 300,000 barrier is sensational and I know the Organizing Committee is working hard to try to create extra capacity to cater for the huge demand for tickets," Craven said in the statement.

"The Russian crowds also deserve huge credit for making these Games a huge success. Their vocal support has inspired the athletes and, what has pleased me the most, is that their support has not just been for Russian athletes but for athletes from all 45 countries.

"It's the Paralympic effect in action. No matter where the Games go, they have an ability to transform sports fans into sports fans for all, supporting all sides and all athletes."   Continued...