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  • Ski Chief Blasts Sochi Costs; No Dutch Boycott


    Ski Chief Blasts Sochi Olympic Costs

    Kasper says the cost of the Sochi Games may deter others from bidding in the future. (Getty Images)
    The International Ski Federation president has sounded off about the cost of the Sochi Olympics, saying they set a “bad example” for future candidate cities.

    Swiss IOC member Gian-Franco Kasper said the estimated $50 billion cost of the Games in the Black Sea resort could top the investment in the Beijing 2008 Olympics and is likely to deter future Olympic bidders.

    "Those costs in Sochi are enormous and a bad example for future candidates. Most nations cannot afford it. Switzerland, France could never afford such amounts. Particularly for Winter Games," Kasper said in an interview with Reuters Friday.

    His comments come as the race for the 2022 Winter Olympics starts to take shape. The six cities bidding are Almaty, Beijing, Krakow, Lviv, Oslo, and Stockholm. IOC president Thomas Bach has called for a creative approach to their bid concepts and is also keen to cut the cost of bidding for and staging the Olympics.

    Kasper, however, paid tribute to Russia for its fast-track construction of new ski resorts and infrastructure since it landed the Games in 2007. He also said that despite security concerns around the Games, Russia would deliver a secure event for athletes and visitors.

    "We have to see that what we did in the Alps, we needed 150 years and they had to do it in five years. If you see that, then it shocks you," he said. "But the Games will be terrific and we will have the most modern venues you can imagine. The expectations are good."

    Kasper added, "The big thing with security for all events in the mountain area is that [organizers] cut the number of spectators by almost 50 percent in the past two years. That, of course, makes it very difficult and really does not help to create a special atmosphere.”

    Heavyweight Dutch Delegation for Sochi

    Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander (Getty Images)
    Despite diplomatic rifts between the Netherlands and Russia in 2013, IOC honorary member King Willem-Alexander and Dutch PM Mark Rutte will attend the Sochi Olympics.

    Rutte announced Friday that he would join the king and his wife, Queen Maxima, at the Games. Dutch sports minister Edith Schippers is also traveling to the Black Sea resort.

    "The Netherlands will be represented. We are not in favor of a boycott. It is better to be involved in dialogue," Rutte said at a press conference, according to Dutch media reports.

    Several leaders from other European countries, along with U.S. president Barack Obama, have decided to snub Sochi 2014 in protest of Russia’s human rights record and its anti-gay law.

    Government Outlines PyeongChang Investment

    Alpensia Sports Park in PyeongChang will play a major role in the 2018 Winter Games. (Getty Images)
    The South Korean government is standing behind the 2018 Winter Olympics in a big way.

    It was revealed on Friday that PyeongChang will be designated as a special district, allowing a large-scale development project aimed at a successful Games, as well as spurring sustainable regional growth.

    The plan covers two decades of growth in the Gangwon Province, as the government will invest $3.1 billion in the area by 2032.

    According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the government hopes to turn the area into a winter sports mecca and major tourist destination.

    Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said the plan “should be aimed at a continued regional development after a successful hosting of the PyeongChang Olympics.”

    Written by Mark Bisson and Nick Devlin

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