Chernyshenko: Sochi 2014 is ready to open the Games
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
(SFC) Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi 2014 Games, feels that the stage is finally ready and the city is poised to open the Olympic Winter Games. The Sochi native is about to see the culmination of seven years of hard work come to fruition and has a personal stake in these Olympics.
He grew up in Sochi and also worked front and center on the bid to win the Games, so these Olympics are in his blood. His family and friends will be watching the event unfold on home soil. It is a matter of hometown pride and he can't wait to get the show on the road.
“Now we are very eager to welcome the athletes into the state of the art venues," he said. "One hundred sixty thousand spectator passes have been issued. Transport will be free for them even the railway will open the door.
“The focus is on the excellence of the athletes who have come to compete and take home medals. Maybe a lot of the medals will stay here.
“This is why we have worked so hard and been so busy, I didn’t expect that it would be so busy here.
“So I can tell you that we are fully ready, we are in great shape everything is in place, and the only thing that is remaining is the athletes coming from all the nations that will participate.
“The atmosphere is building as more and more people arrive. Some of the IOC members have already arrived and they told me, I cannot mention who exactly, but one of the most demanding IOC members told me everything is perfect.," he added.
Chernyshenko confirmed that the only thing left to do was to let the Games begin. He added that the IOC had also inspected the venues and that they were satisfied that they had delivered what they committed and promised.
Ticket sales have been covered at 70% and about one fifth (20%) had been reserved for those who will be here. This purpose was to fulfill the interest and demands of those who will be able to get tickets on the spot.
He noted that a lot of visitors would be coming and they didn’t want them to be empty handed.
“People can still purchase tickets, there is high demand and a long cue but we selling according to plans and we are confident that the stands will be full.
Protests against anti-gay legislation
Russia passed anti-gay legislation laws back last summer and has been in the hot spot ever since. Many athletes have spoken out against these laws and there has been heated debate as to how it will be managed at Sochi 2014.
IOC President Bach clearly told reporters in a conference call earlier on that the athletes should not make any protests on the medal podium. Bach recommended that the athletes have freedom of speech and that the IOC will not tolerate any political protests at the medal ceremony but instead when they are asked they can speak their mind. Press conferences are a different situation.
Initially there was a slight difference of opinion on this stance, however there was a clarification issued by the organizing committee that stated:
"The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee would like to clarify comments attributed to Dmitry Chernyshenko yesterday concerning athletes being able to express themselves during press conferences. Sochi 2014 are fully aligned with the position of the International Olympic Committee," the committee said in a statement.
"Mr. Chernyshenko simply meant that athletes are free to express themselves at a press conference - but of course they cannot use a press conference to make a demonstration or protest - similarly, they cannot use any Olympic venue to demonstrate."
Rule #50 of the Olympic Charter states: No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.
Athletes can even be disqualified if they don’t follow these rules.
The Sochi Games will run February 7 through 23 and will conclude with a passover ceremony to the next Winter Hosts PyeongChang 2018.
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Laura Walden ()
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