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  • Financial Crisis Could Impact Sochi


    Dmitry Chernyshenko (right), president of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, looks at a model of the bobsleigh runs outside Sochi. (Getty Images)
     The head of Sochi 2014 says the global financial crisis is not affecting the massive construction program for the Winter Olympics but admits some impact may be felt in the months ahead.

    "We are not living in a vacuum," Dmitry Chernyshenko told reporters in a conference call, indicating that the economic downturn could yet affect privately financed elements of the program.

    "All the money the government committed to [general] infrastructure is allocated in the budget already, so that guarantees everything will be paid in full," he said of the state-controlled projects.

    "Our government has budgeted three years ahead. I hardly imagine the crisis will last three years."

    Chernyshenko also announced that Sochi's three-tier sponsorship program would be launched at the end of November once its marketing plan had gained IOC approval.

    He said it was too early to say whether the credit crunch would affect the sponsorship drive but reported that there was great enthusiasm to partner with Sochi 2014 both from domestic and international companies.

    "People want to become partners of the organizing committee," he said. "Russia is in a good position now with no external debts. Our financial system is strong."

    People skiing the Krasnaya Polyana mountains outside Sochi. (Getty Images)
    Chernyshenko indicated that the IOC was in negotiations with Russian companies about becoming a TOP sponsor, but appeared to rule out energy giant Gazprom as a partner.

    His comments came after the IOC’s co-ordination commission chair Jean-Claude Killy and Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli approved the relocation of the biathlon venue from the Psekhako Ridge area of the Krasnaya Polyana mountains at a project review meeting in Moscow Tuesday.

    "The new locations for these venues don’t just provide the athletes with the best possible facilities, they will also ensure that any environmental impact is kept to a minimum," said Killy.

    The move follows the relocation of the Olympic sliding center and mountain sub-village in July following months of environmental controversy over the original plans and orders from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to make a change.

    Sochi 2014 also reported at the project review on their transport infrastructure and transport strategy, resulting in the IOC rubberstamping a plan to reduce the number of train lines between
    IOC officials look at a model of proposed construction projects for Sochi 2014. (Getty Images)
    the coastal and mountain cluster from two to one and the width of the road from four to three lanes.

    Environmental reasons were cited for the changes but the scale of the original construction plan was likely a contributing factor.

    Killy said the solutions would greatly improve transport in the region not just for Olympic visitors but for local residents for years to come. "However, as I’ve said in the past, time is short and there is no time to be lost if these ambitious proposals are to be ready in time," he added.

    Sochi's overall transport plan will be submitted to the IOC in February.

    Chernyshenko said venue designs are well advanced and the construction plan is on schedule with 19 projects already underway. "In fact, construction work in several venues within the mountain cluster is ahead of schedule and construction in the Imeretinskaya Valley will start soon," he said.

    The project review also assessed a number of other functional areas of the 2014 Games organization, including sport, NOC services, technology, marketing, accommodation and communications.

    With reporting from Mark Bisson.
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