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  • Sochi 2014 Quells Security Fears after Latest Explosion


    11/11/08

    Sochi officials say with millions of tourists visiting each year, security is a top concern for the resort area. (ATR)
    Organizers of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics provide reassurances over security in the wake of an explosion Tuesday on the outskirts of the Black Sea resort. The blast, which badly injured a man, is the sixth this year to occur in and around the city.

    “We have been informed that a full investigation has been launched by the authorities and the safety and security of visitors to Sochi is a priority for our security services,” a spokeswoman for the Sochi 2014 press service told ATR.

    “In preparations for Russia's first Winter Games, Sochi 2014 will work to the highest international standards of security to ensure a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games that welcomes the world to Sochi.”

    She pointed out that Sochi safely welcomes more than four million visitors a year – making it the most popular tourist destination in Russia. It is also a holiday residence for Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and host of a number of international events, government meetings and summits.

    In the latest explosion, a man's arm was badly maimed when he picked up a metal can on his car and it exploded. Police said the incident may be associated with a criminal dispute.

    Four people have died and nearly two dozen have been injured in explosions that have rocked Sochi and the surrounding area since January. The worst incident happened on the eve of the Beijing Olympics when an explosive device on a beach crowded with tourists killed two and wounded at least seven.

    Police have not been able to link the six explosions. But Russian authorities are concerned about the threat of terrorism and fear the incidents are hurting Sochi's image as it prepares for the 2014 Games.

    Security chiefs also have the tensions between Russia and Georgia front of mind; relations may have thawed since the five-day war over South Ossetia in the summer, but the ongoing tensions still pose a risk to Sochi's Olympic preparations.

    However, Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko has always maintained that the tensions between Russia and Georgia will not affect progress on the project.

    Chernyshenko is in London Wednesday to speak at the Sports Event Management conference. He will talk about the importance of the Olympics to the Black Sea resort and Russia's winter sports legacy in a panel debate titled 'Major Events: Defining Nations.’

    A Sports Security Summit takes place at the same London venue Thursday. But Chernyshenko is not participating and no other representatives from Sochi 2014 are expected to attend.

    Environmental Review

    IOC experts and Sochi 2014 stakeholders gathered today in Moscow for an environmental briefing and technical review. Sochi 2014 has embarked on several major environmental protection programs including a commitment
    CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko says Sochi 2014 is committed to delivering an environmental legacy for the Games. (ATR)
    to stage a zero waste and carbon neutral Games and a snow leopard conservation program.

    Michelle Lemaître, IOC project manager on Games operations, and Paolo Revellino, an IOC environmental consultant, met with Sochi 2014 organizers and representatives from other bodies, including the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Olympstroy, the state corporation overseeing the development of venues and infrastructure for the Games.

    The environmental policies of Sochi 2014 and its stakeholders were reviewed, as well as the planning and implementation of a dedicated environmental program. Part of the Olympic knowledge exchange program, the seminar gave Sochi 2014 the benefit of best practice examples from past organizing committees.

    In particular, the experts and organizers discussed how to develop a sustainable management system in accordance with both international standards and domestic regulations.

    “Sochi 2014 is committed to delivering an inspirational environmental legacy for the Olympic Movement, Russia and the world through a program of environmental transformation in the Krasnodar region,” Chernyshenko said in a statement.

    “This meeting is a major milestone to achieving this goal, and delivering on the pledges made to the Olympic Movement during the bid process.”

    With reporting from Mark Bisson.
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