28 January, 18:59

A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member has lauded preparations for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi and the quality of the Olympic sporting venues. Russia has done an incredible job since it won the right to host the 2014 Winter Games six years ago, Gian-Franco Kasper, an IOC member since 2000 and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since 2003, said in an interview with Russian media outlets just days before the XXII Olympic Winter are scheduled to kick off in Sochi.

“There was absolutely nothing when they got the Games… And it’s an incredible job they did since then, because what we did in the Alps - in the Western Alps - in 150 years, Russia had to do that within five to six years. And it’s incredible that they are ready nowadays with all the new infrastructure… I’m more than surprised that they really finished on time and it will be from the infrastructure a great Olympic Games, there is no doubt.” Kasper said, commenting on Sochi’s preparedness for the Games.

“Our Russian friends developed the area in Sochi particularly for sports in an excellent way, with experts from all over the world,” he said.

The only thing that might potentially be a nuisance is the weather, but then, no one can control the weather.

“We had at every Olympics that I remember, some postponements of competitions because of fog or because of big snowfall. This is very normal. We are an outdoor sport, so we have to live with that… That’s absolutely nothing new,” Kasper said.

Earlier, Mr. Kasper had stirred up quite a fuss when, in one of his previous interviews, he said that one-third of the Sochi Olympics’ budget was rumored to have been stolen. Asked whether he had really meant it or it had been a translation issue, he explained: “I for sure did not say that in this way. And I think your president, Mr. Putin, also had a look or a listen to the tape of this interview, and he had confirmed that I did not say it in this way. Not at all. I said, ‘There are rumors, people are saying that…’ I would not have any figures anyhow. But it did create big waves in the international media, for what reason I do not know.”

That interview was in Swiss German and the article about it came from an American reporter, Kasper said, adding that he didn’t think that the reporter understood one word of Swiss German.

Speaking about Sochi’s skiing venues, he said that they were most modern installations technically.

“We have excellent ski courses, we have brand new jumping hills, we have excellent cross-country tracks. I think this is quite normal, at every winter Games and at every Olympic Games, we always have the newest of the newest, the best of the best. This is quite normal. This is for the athletes, that is important…. In skiing - particularly in Alpine skiing - you need the right mountains. And I can tell you after the test events we had in World Cups and so on, that the courses are very good… I’ve heard many athletes who have tested the courses, that they are more than happy,” Kasper said.

As for the fact that some of the world’s top athletes won’t be competing in Sochi, including American four-time World Cup Alpine ski champion Lindsey Vonn, he said that he was sorry for Vonn and for all other athletes who, unfortunately, would be missing because they had had accidents, but added that he didn’t think that their absence would have any influence on the Sochi Games.

Asked about the possibilities of reusing the Sochi skiing venues for competitions after the Olympics, Kasper, who is also President of the International Skiing Federation (FIS), said that with such excellent venues Sochi could participate every year, that it would be a pity not to have them reused and that FIS already had plans to bring ski jumping events back to Sochi.

Voice of Russia, RT

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