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Sochi 2014 Making "Great Progress" - IOC

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission was in Sochi this week inspecting preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The Coordination Commission, chaired by Jean-Claude Killy, held meetings March 21-23, and received a full update on the progress of preparations for the 2014 Winter Games.

Killy said after the event, "once again, we've seen great progress during our visit to Sochi. I was privileged to be able to attend the very impressive first test event held here last month. It allowed the Games organizers to learn many lessons for the future, and we can see these already being integrated into their planning".

The first sports events - international Alpine skiing competitions - were held in Sochi last month.

Killy added, "on the construction front, the initial vision for the transformation of the region is starting to materialize, with infrastructure and venues rapidly rising from the ground. The mascots have been selected, and planning is reaching a new level of detail. Sochi 2014 is starting to bring its Games vision to life, and is delivering on the legacy of improving the living conditions in the region through bringing infrastructural and environment improvements".

Killy said following a visit to the Alpine skiing slopes and the sliding track, "it is with great satisfaction that we saw how compact these Games will be, thanks to the efforts that have been made to scale them down and bring all the venues into a very condensed area in the mountain cluster. This has helped from a financial standpoint, and will also facilitate the operations for athletes and spectators alike". He added, "I have no doubt that Sochi 2014 will deliver a fantastic Olympic experience for all those attending the Games".

Russian officials were warned last year by Killy that construction delays could threaten the ambitious plans for the 2014, which includes building all the facilities from scratch.

But Wednesday he told a news conference that "as far as we are concerned, and according to our experts, everything is going according to plan. I wouldn't have said that last year".

Killy said Russian organizers has assured the IOC that 70 per cent of the construction work will be completed by next year, and singled out the expected completion of the bobsled run in February as "very impressive".

The Commission identified four priorities organizers must continue to focus on. They include identifying, recruiting and training the workforce for the Games and providing accommodation for that workforce and visitors to the Games.

The Commission received updates on a variety of topics, including venues and infrastructure, product and experience, International Federations and sport, National Olympic Committee and athlete services, media services, the Paralympic Games, marketing and sponsor services, Games operations and services, communications, and the environment, culture and education.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, the Russian government's overseer for Sochi development, acknowledged heavy fog had blocked flights at Sochi airports for several days this past winter, raising concerns about what would happen if similar weather set in during the Games. He said plans were being developed for Sochi-bound flights to be rerouted if necessary to Krasnodar, a major city about 105 miles to the north, and transporting spectators and athletes by rail to Sochi.

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