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The host city of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games is abuzz with activity with a little over four months to go until the start of the Games on 7 February 2014. The organisers of the Sochi 2014 Games are busy with a number of initiatives aimed at bringing the event to life while also putting the final touches on preparations, as Sochi gets set to welcome the world in impressive fashion next year.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, making its 10th and final visit to the Black Sea city, got an appreciation this week of what visitors can expect when they arrive for the Games – and the feedback has been positive.
“We often say that there is no time to waste as the clock ticks down to the Opening Ceremony, and this still stands true,” said Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy. “But to see how far the local organisers have come over the last six years is quite simply remarkable – the competition venues are ready; the spirit of the Games is awakening here; and the athletes, spectators and all others who visit next February can expect a fabulous experience. I'd like to congratulate Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko and their teams for their efforts so far.”
The Coordination Commission visited both the mountain and coastal clusters for a first-hand assessment of the progress being made. Test events have been held at all the competition venues, while non-competition venues are nearing completion and will be ready for the Games. Sochi is already in operational mode, with its Main Operations Centre up and running, full-scale testing under way, and staff starting to man the venues and refine logistical aspects such as transport, accommodation and airport arrivals and departures.
Meanwhile, initiatives to bring the Games to the rest of Russia are in full swing. On Sunday in Ancient Olympia, the Olympic Torch Relay for Sochi 2014 will officially get under way with the lighting of the flame at the Temple of Hera. After a seven-day journey through Greece, the flame will arrive in Moscow on 6 October to begin the longest Olympic Torch Relay in Olympic history, with 14,000 torchbearers helping to transport the flame over 65,000 kilometres in 123 days. The route has been designed to bring the flame within one hour of 90 per cent of the Russian population.
Awareness and interest in the Games are also on the rise thanks to initiatives such as the Cultural Olympiad, which continues to bring the Games experience to the entire country. Sochi 2014’s education programme has introduced the Olympic values to thousands of young Russians, while thousands of volunteers – recruited through 26 volunteer centres countrywide – are preparing to descend upon Sochi to make their invaluable contribution to the success of the Games next February.
Following a first phase of ticket sales earlier this year, Phase 2 of the ticketing programme for Sochi will begin soon, allowing even more Olympic fans from Russia and around the world to support their athletes in person, while Russian fans not lucky enough to get a ticket to be at the Games will be able to participate in the festivities at a number of live sites that will be set up in major cities across the country.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014 President and CEO, said, "With 134 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, we have demonstrated to the IOC that Russia is ready for the Games and only the final touches of our preparations remain.” He continued, “There are many tests in the journey to prepare for an Olympic and Paralympic Games and our stunning venues, new infrastructure, and dedicated staff have passed every one. We are proud to be delivering the promises we made to the International Olympic Committee by hosting a Games that will be truly innovative and inspiring. I would like to personally thank the IOC for their guidance and support since Sochi was awarded the honour of hosting the Games. They have been integral in ensuring we will deliver the best Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ever."
The Coordination Commission noted that legacy initiatives being implemented by Sochi 2014 stand to benefit Russians for generations to come. As part of their efforts to transform Sochi from a summer resort into a year-round destination, the organisers have legacy plans in place for each competition venue. Indeed, already this year, thousands of people are expected to attend the XII Sochi International Investment Forum this coming weekend, which will be hosted in and around the Bolshoy Ice Dome ice hockey venue. Local infrastructure, including roads, rail links, electricity, sewage and water systems, has also been upgraded. The Olympic project has significantly boosted employment in construction and the services industry, while a volunteer culture is beginning to take root thanks to the massive interest shown in the volunteer programme.
The Coordination Commission’s three-day meeting also included discussions on topics such as athlete and National Olympic Committee services, sport and the International Federations, the Paralympic Games, the Look of the Games, technology, media services, marketing, medical services, and spectator experience.