Gilbert Felli, Olympic Games executive director, at the press briefing (ATR)
(ATR) The IOC confirms it has the power to postpone the first Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014, venue for the Winter Olympics that year, if its organisation impacts preparations for the Games.
Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli also said that by the end of this year, 70 percent of all constructions for the Games will be complete.
"We have said it is good for Russia and Sochi. However, we don't want facility building for the Grand Prix to put preparations for the Games at risk," Felli told a press briefing in Lausanne on Wednesday.
"If the IOC decides it is not feasible at one point then we could stop and postpone it to 2015," he added.
Felli said the escape plan was written into the contract with Formula One bosses.
Last October, F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin struck the deal to stage the Grand Prix in Sochi from 2014 to 2020. Sochi's Formula One organisers expect the track to be completed before the Feb. 7 opening of the Winter Olympics.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, president and CEO of Sochi 2014, has previously admitted the Grand Prix plan for 2014 could be abandoned if it led to difficulties in the massive building effort required for the Games.
The IOC Executive Board was yesterday updated on preparations for the next three Olympics and the first winter Youth Olympics. London, Sochi, Rio and Innsbruck 2012 leaders presented updates by video and phone links.
Felli said Sochi leaders had addressed concerns over accommodations and staffing levels. He said the IOC was satisfied with new contracts from the owners of hotels and timelines for their construction.
Sochi also offered reassurances on how it will recruit and train staff and how it will operate the Games and deliver services to different client groups.
"It is a difficult project but we can say that 40 percent of construction is finished and by the end of 2011, 70 percent of construction will be finished," Felli added.
On London 2012, Felli said the schedule for the 26 sports had been approved, paving the way for the start of ticket sales in March. Felli gave no indication of any major concerns around the London project.
He said preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympics were also progressing well.
Upgrading the airport infrastructure remains one of the IOC's biggest concerns, but Felli insisted work would speed up as part of preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the IOC was confident everything asked for would be delivered.
IOC Satisfied with Annecy 2018 Change
Felli claimed the change in leadership of the Annecy 2018 bid was unlikely to have any bearing on the outcome of the Winter Olympics race
Charles Beigbeder is the new CEO of the French Winter Olympic bid (Annecy 2018)
that concludes with the IOC vote in Durban on July 6.
Charles Beigbeder was appointed as the French bid's new CEO on Monday, replacing Edgar Grospiron who resigned in December following concerns over Annecy's bid budget.
"I don't think for us it is important and for the Evaluation Commission. It is more important what is presented to us, not really who is the leader," Felli told reporters.
The three Winter Olympic candidates - Annecy, Munich and Pyeongchang - handed over their bid books to the IOC earlier this week.
The IOC Evaluation Commission starts its four-day inspection visits to the cities next month; the first stop is Annecy on Feb. 12.
IOC Sets Timetable for 2020 Olympics Bidding
A letter will go out to national Olympic committees on May 16 inviting them to nominate applicant cities for the summer Games.
In a first for any bidding contest, the IOC will ask for NOCs to submit letters regarding compliance with the World Anti-doping Agency code by July 29. Also unprecedented, Olympic committees will request submission of proposed dates, if nations want to stage the Games outside the normal period set by the IOC (July 15 and August 31).
The IOC will respond to NOCs on these points by the end of August.
The bidding contest gets underway in earnest after the election of the 2018 Winter Olympic city at the IOC Session in Durban on July 6.
The deadline for applicant city nominations from NOCs is Sept. 1. An information seminar for 2020 applicants is scheduled for October.
Application files and guarantee letters are due with the IOC by Feb. 15 next year, with the IOC Executive Board deciding on the candidate cities for the 2020 Games at its May meeting.
Following the London 2012 Olympics and a debrief in Rio de Janeiro, bid dossiers must be submitted to the IOC in January 2013.
Evaluation Commission visits and a briefing to IOC members take place in the following months before the election of the host city at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.
Rome is the only city so far to formally launch a bid for 2020. Durban is awaiting government approval to bid. The Japanese Olympic Committee is encouraging interest from both Tokyo and Hiroshima. Other bids could come from Romania, Hungary and the Middle East.
reporting from Mark Bisson in Lausanne
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