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  • Sochi 2014 Olympic Chief Sets Ambitious Sponsorship Target


    Dmitry Chernyshenko wants to wrap up the top tier sponsorship program by the 2010 Winter Games. (ATR/ Panasonic:Lumix)

     Despite the ongoing global recession, Dmitry Chernyshenko, president and CEO of Sochi 2014, says he is aiming to secure all top tier sponsors by the time of the Vancouver Olympics next February.

    “I expect that by the Vancouver Games we will more or less conclude our tier one program and then we will continue with tier two."

    Three tier one domestic partners have already been signed up this year, with Rostelecom and Megafon joining as telecommunications partners and Rosneft in the oil category. Sberbank was recruited last month in a deal worth an estimated $110 to $130 million.

    Under the ambitious timetable, six remaining major sponsorship categories would be filled. They are: apparel, automobile, metallurgy, gas, airline and insurance.

    Speaking to reporters after last week’s IOC Coordination Commission visit to Sochi, Chernyshenko said an apparel sponsor would come next with an announcement scheduled in June. Bosco and adidas are in the running.

    “It’s coming soon. We have to wait about one month to finalize our contract and after that we will announce the winner,” he said.

    Chernyshenko’s confidence in the fundraising drive suggests the economic gloom may be slowly lifting in Russia, one of the countries hit hardest by the financial crisis.

    Once the top tier partners are lined up, Sochi 2014 marketing chiefs will work on securing around 10 second tier sponsors. Another 15 suppliers would fill third tier slots and be designated 'Sochi 2014 partners.'

    The IOC delegation led by Jean-Claude Killy will have been encouraged to learn that interest in sponsorships has not waned significantly since the onset of the economic downturn.

    But it’s the fast-track construction effort required to build venues and infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Olympics that is of more concern to the IOC.

    At the conclusion of the IOC’s May 13-14 inspection, Killy said the work under way in areas such as transportation, infrastructure development and technological upgrades for the whole region was “absolutely immense." He said “time is not a luxury that we have to play with on this project,"but noted that “a lot of progress” had been made in the past year.

    Confident in Progress

    Chernyshenko was upbeat about the pace of preparations for the 2014 Games on all fronts following the IOC’s stay in the Black Sea resort.

    Admitting the most challenging aspect was the time factor, he said: “Even four years and a half prior to the Games we are really under pressure… with the volume of things to be delivered. But we are well on track despite our ambitious plans.”

    Sochi 2014 organizers have moved from strategic to operational planning and last week submitted to IOC experts the Games
    The Sochi bypass road project is a major undertaking but is expected to be largely completed by the autumn. (ATR/ Panasonic:Lumix)
    Foundation Plan, which sets out the goals to be delivered in the next four years.

    “We are fully guided by the IOC and the international federations and within the guidelines given to us in the master schedule and other documents we are delivering on time,” Chernyshenko emphasized.

    Projects in the mountains of Krasnaya Polyana are progressing well, while work on Olympic Park venues on the Sochi coastline begins next month. He has pledged that all sports venues will be under construction by the end of the year.

    Killy and Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli return to Sochi in June to witness the start of foundation work on some key venues including the showpiece 40,000-seat stadium, various ice halls and the Olympic village.

    Chernyshenko insisted the total support of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was critical to the momentum behind the Olympic venture.

    “Putin is personally and actively involved in the way of preparations for the Games,” he said.

    “And the fact that he’s using every opportunity to meet with his friend Jean-Claude Killy reflects how seriously he considers the role of the IOC and advice from Jean-Claude to deliver a really innovative and outstanding Games.”

    Commenting on the country’s corporate governance of the project, he said, “Everything is set up. We don’t expect any risks in delivery because everybody knows their place and everybody is working. Now is about time management.”

    Killy and some of his commission colleagues met with Putin last Thursday. The Russian PM gave reassurances that all deadlines were being hit and said some projects were
    One of the three hotels at the Gazprom ski resort in the Krasnaya Polyana mountains. (ATR/ Panasonic:Lumix)
    ahead of schedule.

    Putin also responded to criticism from environmentalists over legacy planning for the Olympics. They claim the city will be left with unwanted ice venues when the Olympic party is over.

    He was quoted in Russian media reports saying that “five ice arenas on the Black Sea shore is an excessive amount," suggesting several of them could be taken down after the Games and reused in other cities to spread the Olympic legacy around Russia.

    Chernyshenko spoke to reporters before Putin had made these comments but insisted the legacy of the Games was far-reaching. He made it clear that the 2014 Olympics would be a coming out party for Russia much as China used the 2008 Games to change perceptions of the country.

    “It will be a celebration for new Russia,” he said. “All the world will be welcome to my native city of Sochi and I will be really proud to demonstrate real Russian hospitality of the new modern Russia.”

    With reporting from Mark Bisson.
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