Putin says Russia will be ready for 2014 Sochi Olympics

Wed Feb 6, 2013 2:34pm EST
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By Alexei Anishchuk

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin told Olympic chiefs on Wednesday Russia would have its facilities ready in time to host the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, despite rising costs and concerns about corruption and humans rights abuses.

Putin led a top International Olympic Committee delegation on a tour of venues erected in the Caucasus mountains rising above the Black Sea resort city, a landscape honeycombed by construction activity.

"Overall, work is going according to plan," said Putin, sporting sunglasses and a fur-collared black jacket on his inspection of ski-jumping facilities at Krasnaya Polyana, about 40 km (25 miles) outside Sochi.

"I have no doubt that all the sites will be ready on time and with the appropriate quality," he told the IOC delegation, which included Jean Claude Killy, a former Olympic alpine skiing champion.

IOC President Jacques Rogge also toured sites built for the Sochi Games, which open on February 7 next year, and the visiting Olympic officials praised Russia's preparations.

"I am impressed by the fantastic volume of work that has been undertaken," IOC delegation member Gilbert Felli said.

Russia says, however, that the cost of staging the Games will reach $50 billion - almost five times more than the original price tag, putting Sochi on track to become the most expensive Olympic Games to date.

Putin also warned officials against allowing corruption to push costs even higher. "The main thing is that no one steals anything, so there are no unexplained increases in costs," he was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.   Continued...

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) listens to Interros Company President Vladimir Potanin (L) as he visits the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center in Rosa Khutor outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi, February 6, 2013. Putin on Wednesday toured objects of the Olympic mountain cluster, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. REUTERS/Ivan Sekretarev/Pool