SOCHI, (PNA/R-Sport) -– The Russian city of Sochi has passed its final inspection ahead of February’s Winter Olympics with flying colors, despite serious flooding overshadowing the visit of the International Olympic Committee’s coordination commission.
The delegation, headed by Jean-Claude Killy, paid its tenth visit to the Black Sea resort this week, with all competition facilities for the Games built and the finishing touches being put to infrastructure.
“Our impression is unanimous, everything is very impressive,” Killy said as a rare burst of sunshine bathed the coastal Olympic Park.
“Everything is almost in place, there are just a few minor things that have to be done, but those minor things, those details make a great difference,” he said without going into detail. “There are still a lot of things to be done.”
But that’s nothing new for a host city, said Killy, a three-time Olympic Alpine skiing champion.
“Even a month before the Games, the situation is always like that. Sochi is not behind schedule,” the 70-year-old said.
President Vladimir Putin’s appointed Olympic supervisor, Dmitry Kozak, echoed Killy’s thoughts.
“All fears have been put to bed as concerns the preparations for the Games,” he said. “Over the last few years, huge work has been done. A new city has been built,” Kozak said. “We’re on the final straight, to speak as a skier like Mr. Killy, we are approaching the last gate.”
Heavy rains in Sochi this week caused the worst flooding there in years, leading to several road closures and raising some fears that a repeat of the situation in February could bring the Games to a standstill.
But Killy insisted there was nothing to worry about.
“It wouldn’t stop the Games. I understand this is a historic event,” he said. “It would go unnoticed during the Games.”
The coordination commission has made progress checks on Sochi ever since April 2008, when none of the 200 venues and other facilities required for the Games existed.
“After seven years, the journey is nearly over,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
The Games are set to be the most expensive in history, with about US$ 50 billion reportedly being spent on turning Sochi into a modern sports resort and international tourist destination.
They are being billed as the most compact Games in history, with all facilities restricted to a coastal and a mountain cluster connected by an ultra-modern road and rail link.
The opening ceremony is February 7, with the Olympic torch relay starting October 7 on Red Square in Moscow.