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  • Tuesday Talk -- Gilbert Felli IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Games


    Gilbert Felli. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) The IOC's Executive Director for the Olympic Games says with three years to go, Sochi is on pace with construction, and could have 70 percent of all work completed by the end of the year.

    In this exclusive Tuesday Talk with Around the Rings, Gilbert Felli discusses the state of preparations for the 2014 Olympics.

    Around the Rings: With three years to go, is Sochi on target for the Games?
    Gilbert Felli: Yes.

    I would say if we speak first of all about the construction because it is one of the main subjects in Sochi, we are happy to see that 40 percent of the constructions are finished. We should be at about 70 percent at the end of 2011. We are on target. I’ve got a group of experts, they leave Monday to observe the level of preparation of the constructions. It seems we are happy and on track.

    Of course about the alpine skiing we will have the first test event which means all the venue there will be ready for alpine skiing.

    ATR: What can you say about the changes for the leadership for Olympic construction agency, Olympstroy?
    GF: I think we are very confident we are happy with [Taimuraz] Bolloev, he did a great job. Then unfortunately he could not keep going in the position. We have to say the real leadership in the construction is Vice Premier [Dmitry] Kozak and he is still the man who has got the decision in his hand. So we are very confident that the choice of the successor for Mister Bolloev will be first of all in the line and working closely with Kozak.

    ATR: Are you giving any extra attention to the construction in Sochi as a result of the personnel move?
    GF: Not at all because we believe the structure is in place. The leadership is important in every aspect but as I said, the top leadership is still in the same hands, the dedication of the government remains there, the lay of the people who work there remains there and the relationships with the organizing committee the person in charge coordinating the work with Olympstroy and the organizing committee remain there.

    But as I said we have experts who are there next week and if any of them are worried we will be informed about it.

    ATR: Are the experts looking for anything in particular?
    GF: With the visit of our experts in Sochi we have a fixed at the beginning an agenda, a process to review the construction, the deadlines. When we have specific issues we have adapted our structure. For instance, like a year and half ago we started to have worries with tunnel number 3, together with the organizing committee with Olympstroy we put in place a task force to review that.

    But today we don’t feel we have any specific attention should be brought to one of the specific projects. As I said, 40 percent is done, 70 percent has to be finished by the end of the year so that means there is still a lot of effort to do.

    Olympic construction in Sochi is 40 percent complete. (ATR)
    What about the first test events this month in Sochi? What will you be looking for in these events?
    GF: The main thing we are looking at this time--it’s not really a test event, it’s a competition there--is really the field of play.

    We see if we can understand if the slope needs any modification or adaption. Annd then we test the team of the sport people dealing with the operation of the slope, the operation of the slope during the competition and we are also testing all safety, the ski patrol and all those people will have to be on the slope.

    ATR: After the bombing last month in Domodedovo, does the IOC look for more assurances from Russia about security for the Olympics?
    GF: Its two things, you have the security for the Olympics and you have what could happen in a country from now during the Olympic Games. For the Olympics we know what they are doing to put security in place. As we follow with London, we followed with Vancouver, we followed with Beijing, to make sure that what is needed to protect the security of the participants is in place.

    After that you always have in different countries, you see it in London you see it in Paris in the past, you see it in New York you see it in Madrid, you can have some terrorist activities that could affect the country and then we always try to understand what kind of intelligence and how they could try to avoid such activities. Of course with the Games it is difficult but it is a specific place and you can protect to a specific system. If you want to an attack a country you can not protect all your assets. At the end of the day the Games is a high target but it’s the one you can protect the best.

    ATR: Does the IOC also need security assurances in Sochi ahead of the Games for all the people who travel there for preparations, for test events?
    GF: You know at the IOC for our people we have to travel to London we have to travel to Paris we have to travel to different cities who have been affected also with security issues. We are permanently worried for our staff and our people as we live in a world where things are not easy. We know any country is trying to avoid any incident we know that it could be a risk with different actions. We understand that the Russian government is taking all necessary steps, protecting an airport and places like this that could happen in any other city.

    ATR: What are you expecting from Sochi in 2011 – what are the main goals they need to reach?
    GF: The first one is to pass this first test of the alpine skiing venue. Secondly that they keep the pace on the deadline of construction. And I think if we can go with these two aspects, the accommodation construction is the most important at the moment, then we should be satisfied.

    Interview conducted by Ed Hula III.

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