Putin sees delays in Russian Olympic preparations

Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:27pm EDT
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By Denis Dyomkin

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered officials to quickly overcome failures and delays in preparing the Sochi Winter Olympics and said he expected nothing less than a 'brilliant Games".

The Black Sea resort city and Olympic village still resemble a construction site five months before the start of the Games on which Putin has staked a great deal of national and personal political prestige. Work is still under way on venues and other infrastructure.

Inspecting preparatory work, Putin told a senior government minister to report to him every two weeks.

He gave no details of the delays and problems, except to express consternation over recent flooding at Sochi airport, which has been upgraded by a company owned by Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia's top businessmen.

"Despite the large amount of work that has been done - it's a simply colossal amount - there are ongoing failures and delays which in general are normal for such a big job," Putin told local officials in Sochi.

"But I want to draw your attention to the start date for the Games and the fact that we cannot move it ... in order to cope with this problem, you need to work very effectively."

Putin sees hosting the Olympics as a chance to show the world what Russia can achieve more than two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed. The cost of hosting the Games is expected to rise to $50 billion dollars, much more than expected initially and more than any other Olympics.

Making clear he would not accept failure, Interfax news gency quoted Putin as saying: "The result expected by us is a brilliant Games."   Continued...

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a ceremony to launch a countdown clock for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Bolshoi Ice Dome in the Black Sea resort of Sochi February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin