POSTED: January 27th 2014

IOC President Bach upbeat on the Sochi 2014 Games and confident about Russian security

The Olympic Village ready for the athletes / Sochi 2014
The Olympic Village ready for the athletes / Sochi 2014

The Village will remain as housing or apartments / Sochi 2014
The Village will remain as housing or apartments / Sochi 2014

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach took questions from a group of top Olympic reporters today and tackled the toughest questions on everyone’s minds in the lead up to the Sochi 2014 Games.

Before taking off to Sochi to start the IOC’s working meetings that will be held there, Bach expressed confidence in the security efforts being carried out by the Russian hosts amid a number of security concerns.

He said, “I am really looking forward to travel to Sochi because we feel that the Olympic atmosphere is building up. The athletes as you can now see very clearly will enjoy excellent conditions in Sochi both with regards to the sports facilities and the Olympic Villages.

“I think it will be a first ever that almost 80% of the athletes can literally walk from their bed in the Village to the venues.

“The weather is fine, we have plenty of snow, this is very much different from here in Lausanne and in most of Europe. And even more is expected at the end of the week. If for once the weather forecast is true.

“We can also from this point look forward with great anticipation to these winter Games. Our first teams are there and they are all very satisfied. Of course there are final touches to be made in the last days this is not new. But I think overall we can say Sochi is ready to welcome the best winter athletes of the world."

The President noted that the Olympic Games are subject to political discussions and concerns, but that people around the world will understand that the event is about sports and in this respect there will be a good Olympic atmosphere.

Bach doesn't think the Games will be overshadowed by the allegations of corruption and the security worries and doesn't think these will impact the Olympic brand.

Issues have been raised about respecting human rights and the conditions for workers there in Sochi as a massive buildup has been carried out to create a winter sports destination next to a summer vacation area.  

Bach was quick to clarify the IOC’s position and said, “There has been contact with human rights groups like the Human Rights Watch and others. So we have always been taking these concerns seriously and addressed them in a way that we can address them."

On another note the budget for Sochi has skyrocketed to a stunning $51 billion and has become the most expensive Games in history. This has raised concerns over the escalating cost of the venues and the press has reported numerous corruption allegations.

Bach replied, “First of all the attitude of the IOC is very clear and we are standing against any form of corruption. Whenever there have been concrete accusations and information in the past they have been passed onto the Organizing Committee. The organizing committee has a very strong policy in place against any kind of corruption and I think about ten days ago you also heard the president of the Russian Federation saying if there is any concrete information the Russian authorities will follow up.”

The ongoing emergence in the press of allegations has worked like a steady drip and Bach was asked if this has had an effect on the Olympic Movement.

The President disagreed and said that the position of the IOC is very clear and that people are fighting against any kind of corruption. He also noted that people can make the difference from a general claim and one with concrete evidence.  

The budget effect of Sochi has had an effect on bidding and just recently Stockholm was forced to pull out of the 2022 bid race due to a lack of support from the local government. It has put hosting the Games in a different light if the budget balloons up multiplying the figure of the original plan.

Bach sustains that the IOC is stringent in the bid planning process and with their conditions. However over the seven year period from winning the Games to hosting them things can change.

He added that the operational budget is where the IOC and the organizing committee have responsibilities and that it is very different from the investment budget. Almost all of the recent Games budgets have just broken even and not made a large excess profit.

Taking on the hosting of the Games is a huge undertaking and transformation for the society as well as the infrastructure. The event serves as a catalyst for change.  

Bach added, “It serves as a long term investment leaving a legacy for many generations to come.”

Keywords · Sochi 2014 · Thomas Bach · IOC

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