Report: Corruption plagues Winter Games
According to a report released this week by opposition leaders, cronies of President Vladimir Putin have stolen up to $30 billion of funds intended for preparations for next year’s Sochi Winter Olympics, reports Reuters.
“In preparing for the Olympics, $25 to $30 billion was stolen,” Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov told reporters.
The report, written by Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk, another Putin critic, claims the most expensive facilities built for the Games were commissioned without competition or public tenders.
“Only oligarchs and companies close to Putin got rich,” Martynyuk wrote on his blog. “The absence of fair competition, cronyism… have led to a sharp increase in the costs and to the poor quality of the work to prepare for the Games.”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on the criticism, saying he had not seen the report.
Stockpiling snow in the mountains
The Russians are spending big on Sochi, and preparing for a drought.
According to the London-based New European Economy, the seaside resort will spend an estimated 8 billion euros on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, more than the three previous Winter Olympics combined.
Among costs are 60 miles of new roads and rails, 37 miles of tunnels, 440 miles of fiber optic cable, a light rail system, airport expansion, two new power stations, 30,000 new hotel rooms, a new seaport and several new sewage treatment plants.
But buying snow is more difficult.
Of course, there is snowmaking. Dmitry Chernyshenko, chair of the organizing committee told USA Today that the 400 snow-making generators are effective to temperatures as high as 59. That wasn’t high enough last season.
Several test events, including skiing and snowboard events, were canceled last season as temperatures in the 60s curtailed competition. Although the mountains produce copious quantities of snow, there is enough concern that the Russians have already begun hoarding the white stuff. There are seven “reservoirs” located in the mountains.
Sergei Bachin, the general director of Roza Khutor, the ski resort hosting the alpine events told Reuters, “We’ve prepared seven separate areas for snow storage high up in the mountains. I want to assure all the competitors that there won’t be any shortage of snow next February even if we encounter even warmer temperatures next year.”
At a reported cost of roughly $11 million, the Russians have stockpiled 440,000 cubic meters of snow, covered it with a “special thermo seal” and figure they’ll lose 140,000 cubic meters over the summer and still have plenty to host all events.
The locals are not anticipating needing it at all. “This was a very odd winter,” Chernyshenko said. “Even locals don’t remember when was the last time they had such warms days in the mountains. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see the same kind of weather next year.”
The presentation of the Olympic and Paralympic medals, which will be awarded at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, took place in St. Petersburg earlier this week during the 11th “SportAccord” Annual International Sports Convention.
Guests of honor at the ceremony, which is often held in the year before the Games, included IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy, CEO of the IPC Xavier Gonzalez and President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko.
The presentation ceremony was opened by Dmitry Chernyshenko, who gave the audience the main facts and figures about the Sochi 2014 medals and highlighted their unique qualities. The Olympic and Paralympic medals were then displayed and members of the public were able to view them up close.
The medals feature the Sochi 2014 “Patchwork Quilt” – a mosaic of national designs from the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation. The medals have been carefully crafted to depict the landscape of Sochi from the sun’s rays reflecting through the snowy mountain tops onto the sandy beaches of the Black Sea coast. These contrasts in Russia’s natural landscape are embodied in the medals and will be an everlasting souvenir for the champions. The unusual combination of metal and polycarbonate lends to the medals a sense of lightness and distinctive beauty.
The front of the medal features the Olympic rings. The reverse contains the name of the competition in English, and the logo of the Sochi 2014 Games. The official name of the Games in Russian, English and French is engraved on the medal’s rim.
The Sochi 2014 medals are being manufactured by the experts at Adamas, a Sochi 2014 Supplier and Russia’s leading jeweler. Each medal takes up to 18 hours to be created and the latest design and technology processes have been used in the manufacturing process.
FIS experts check in on venue progress
A delegation of FIS Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard experts recently inspected the Extreme Park in Krasnaya Polyana/Rosa Khutor, the future site of both Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard competitions at the Sochi 2014 Games.
The visit, which took place toward the end of May, was the latest in what will total 15 inspections before February 2014.
Based on experiences at the FIS World Cup events in February, a thorough evaluation was conducted with regard to the venue layout, competition schedule and organizational structure. Due to challenging weather conditions, 30 percent of the 20 test events had to be cancelled, including two competitions in freestyle skiing and four in snowboarding.
“Overall, the construction work is at the final stage in order to deliver the courses, stadium and venues to the highest standards. We believe that once the full development of the infrastructure is concluded, the Rosa Khutor venue will provide a fantastic setting for our competitions,” said FIS Freestyle Skiing Coordinator Joseph Fitzgerald.