POSTED: December 4th 2008

Putin stands up for Sochi

Leading men: IOC president Jacques Rogge and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin / Sochi 2014
Leading men: IOC president Jacques Rogge and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin / Sochi 2014

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Vladimir Putin has warned foreign critics not to use the 2014 Sochi Winter Games as a political weapon.

The Russian Prime Minister spoke up while Dmitri Kozak, newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister with Games responsibility, was visiting London to gain a preparations insight from 2012 local organisers.

Putin used a televised question-and-answer session to rebuff criticism of the Sochi hosting generated after the military dispute with Georgia over South Ossetia. Sochi, a Black Sea resort at the foot of the Caucasus, was awarded the Games by the IOC in July 2007 in preference to Salzburg and Pyeonchang, South Korea.

It is within 50 miles of the Russian border with Georgia which, last month, asked the IOC via its National Olympic Committee to move the Games on security grounds. That had raised fears of a tit-for-tat boycott exchange such as the one which blighted the summer Games of both Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984.

Political interventions

In response, Putin said: “I see no reasons for reviewing the IOC decision to hold the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Decisions such as this should not be politicised by the attempts of some western politicians to defend their clients in the Georgian leadership.”

Putin then contributed a verbal attack of his own on the government of Georgia.

The neighbouring states fought a brief border war last August for political control over the disputed border territory. Moscow subsequently recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another separatist region, as independent states. Last month the Georgian NOC raised the Sochi issue at the general assembly of the European Olympic committees in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, the Sochi organisers have continued to progress their preparations.

Kozak’s visit to London was his first since he took up his latest governmental appointment and followed the launch of a nationwide competition to decide how best to receive the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of Vancouver 2010.

Kozak's London mission

In London Kozak and other members of the Sochi delegation met key figures in the 2012 preparation team including Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell MP, LOCOG ceo Paul Deighton and David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority - who led a guided tour of the Olympic Park site.

Kozak said afterwards: "Sochi 2014 is a major priority for the Russian Government and since being appointed to my current role it has been very useful to discuss Games delivery with members of the worldwide Olympic Family. Today’s meetings with London 2012 stakeholders have provided insights for the benefit of all concerned.”

As for the flag handover competition, a Sochi supervisory panel will select one winning entry for each of the two Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies.

Dmitri Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014 president and ceo, said: “Given Russia’s passion for the Winter Games, we wanted to give everybody the opportunity to participate in the planning of these key ceremonies. The flag handover sections can have a significant impact on perceptions of the Sochi Games between 2010 and 2014.”

The closing date for entries is December 25.

Keywords · Sochi · Winter Games 2014 · Vladimir Putin · Russia · Georgia · South Ossetia · Dmitri Kozak · Dmitri Chernyshenko

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.