The eighth visit of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission to Sochi concluded today with Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy praising the local organisers of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games for the notable progress they have made in preparations, just weeks before the start of a key test season.
During its three-day visit from 9-11 October, the Commission paid visits to a number of the future Olympic venues, including the sliding centre, ski jump facility, cross country/biathlon area and the coastal cluster. The Commission was pleased to note that most of the venues are either nearing completion or are already in use.
With over 20 Sochi 2014-organised test events scheduled over the course of the winter, the venues and other Games infrastructure are set to receive their greatest assessment to date. Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko highlighted that the lessons learnt during London 2012, as part of the IOC Observer Programme, have also helped his team fine-tune their operational readiness preparations ahead of the Games.
“The venues have come a long way in a relatively short period since our last visit here, and we congratulate Deputy Prime Minister Kozak and Olympstroy for their work,” said Commission Chairman Killy. “We have also been impressed with the advances made in hotel construction and, in particular, transport. It all bodes well for a successful season of test events ahead, as well as for a great legacy left behind for the local population.”
The Commission reviewed all aspects of preparations for the different client groups, including athletes, International Federations, National Olympic Committees, spectators, the Paralympic Games and the media. Having conducted a detailed examination of Sochi 2014’s operational plans, the Commission said it was confident the organisers were firmly on schedule to deliver top-quality Games for all stakeholders in 2014.
President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko noted: “We are currently focused on delivering the most robust test event schedule in the history of the Winter Games, with 47 different test events this season alone to check the venues and surrounding infrastructure to ensure we’re 100 per cent prepared.
We are already making great steps, having this month held the Federation Cup figure skating tournament at the Iceberg Skating Palace. Located in the Sochi Olympic Park, the event was the first test in the coastal cluster, and the venue attracted high levels of praise from the athletes competing.”
The Commission congratulated Sochi 2014 on its plans for the Olympic Torch Relay, details of which were announced on 7 October. The ambitious route will pass within an hour of 90 per cent of the Russian population during its record 65,000-kilometre journey, increasing interest in the Games ahead of the Opening Ceremony, which will be held in fewer than 500 days.
Russian Olympic Committee President Alexandr Zhukov also attended the meetings, telling the Commission that every effort was being made to field the strongest possible Russian team at the 2014 Games.
The Sochi organisers outlined the activities of the Cultural Olympiad and educational programme, and detailed their progress on volunteers. So far this year, Sochi 2014 has held 700 cultural events in 130 locations around Russia, with some 900,000 people attending. 2012 is the Year of Music according to the Cultural Olympiad calendar, with the Year of Museums planned for 2013.
The figures presented during Sochi’s volunteer update were no less impressive. Twenty-six volunteer “hubs” located around the country have received almost 120,000 applications so far, including around 4,000 from abroad. In addition, Chairman Killy and the IOC’s Executive Director for the Olympic Games, Gilbert Felli, met with the heads of the volunteer centres in Sochi and thanked them for their hard work.
On the educational front, some 600 teachers, librarians, partner representatives and other volunteers have already taken part in the “Train the Teacher” Olympic educational programme designed to address the challenge of bringing the Sochi 2014 Games to the entire country. Over 1,800 educational events have been held this year alone, and have reached around 10 million people.