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  • 100 Years for Russian Olympics; "Zero Threat" from Georgia; 2012 Medal Expectations Tamed


    Medvedev, Putin Congratulate Russian Olympic Committee

    Russian leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin congratulate the Russian Olympic Committee for its hard work at the NOC’s centenary celebration in Moscow.
    Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev offered congratulations to the ROC. (Getty Images)

    “The committee has done a lot to develop the Olympic movement, physical training and sports,” President Medvedev said. “At most prestigious competitions our athletes have achieved hundreds of world records and have overcome most mighty competitors in persistent fight.”

    “These achievements have improved Russia’s prestige of a sports country. Today you continue the rich traditions, founded by your predecessors, you remain devoted to the true principles of the Olympic movement, which is a basis of international cooperation and national sports.”

    Prime Minister Putin had similar words of encouragement.

    "This anniversary provides us with a wonderful opportunity for recalling the rich and glorious history of the Olympic Movement, as well as the wonderful and dedicated individuals, whose work and talents established Russia's Olympic traditions, and to pay tribute to the numerous generations of athletes who wrote bright pages in the victorious chronicle of national sport.

    "I would like to note that, in the past few years, the National Olympic Committee has evolved into an influential public organization. It has made a truly invaluable contribution to promoting professional sports in Russia, to training Olympic champions, to popularizing physical fitness, promoting the values of a healthy lifestyle and strengthening international sport ties.”

    Both men offered support for the 2014 Olympics.

    “You follow them in solving the large-scale tasks like preparations for the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi,” Medvedev said. “I am sure they will be organized at a high level to comply with the modern standards.”

    "The National Olympic Committee currently faces serious challenges. The future of Russian sport and its competitiveness largely depend on our ability to respond to these challenges” Putin said. “Of course, this also includes efficient preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics. I am confident that the National Olympic Committee will do everything possible for the success of this international event."

    While the ROC celebrated its 100th year, it technically did not exist for much of the past 100 years.

    During the Soviet era, the Olympic Committee of the USSR was the chief Olympic body.

    The ROC was created in 1989 and recognized by the IOC in 1993.

    Russians first competed at the 1900 Olympics. Officials submitted names of Olympians for the 1896 Olympics, but failed to send anyone.

    In total, Russians have competed, under several different flags, in 17 Summer Olympics and 15 Winter Olympics.

    “Zero Threat” from Georgia to Olympics

    Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili downplayed any chance his country could pose a threat to the Sochi Olympics.
    Mikheil Saakashvili. (ATR)

    The Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia is 25 miles from Sochi. Tensions between Georgia and Russia over the disputed territory have increased in recent years.

    But Saakashvili says this will not impact the 2014 Games.

    Speaking to Russian television on Thursday, he said a “physical threat” to the Olympics “is neither in our plans, nor in our capability”, underscoring that point adding there is “zero threat” from Georgia.

    “As far as Russia’s political problem is concerned [regarding the Sochi Olympics], it is a huge problem, because just few kilometers from the Olympic site Russia has officially, on the political level legalized ethnic cleansing” he said. “In this sense they have problems, but this problem was not created by us. We would be happy if we could resolve this problem gradually through joint efforts with Russia.”

    Sakaashvili backed Sochi’s Olympic bid in 2007.

    Media Watch: Security

    Bloomberg News reports on security issues affecting the Sochi Olympics.

    Russia Taming Expectations

    Despite predictions that Russia will top the medal tally in London, the Russian Olympic Committee has more modest goals.

    Speaking to The Moscow Times, an ROC spokeswoman says it could finish fourth.

    “We predict that the United States, Russia, China and Great Britain will take the first four places in total medals won, but it is not yet clear in what order,” she said. “Based on 2010’s major tournaments’ results, we are second, but neither a swimming world championship, nor a track and field athletics world championship was held last year, and the Americans are traditionally very strong in those fields.”

    The number-one prediction came from the Australian Olympic Committee which this week forecast Russia taking home 97 medals.

    Written by Ed Hula III.

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