September 26 - Following its final visit to Sochi ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has praised Russia's preparation for the Games saying they will be a "fabulous experience".
The IOC's Coordination Commission, which is tasked with visiting Games' host cities to monitor preparations and visit competition venues, completed its final visit today to Sochi, which was awarded the event in 2007, and has been glowing in its praise of the preparations ahead of the start of the Games on February 7.
"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."
The praise comes just days after Russian authorities put Sochi and its surrounds in a state of emergency following floods and mudslides caused by heavy rainfall, while there are still ongoing recriminations over the controversial anti-gay laws introduced by the Government earlier this year which outlawed the promotion of "non-traditional" relationships, leading to widespread protests and calls for athletes to boycott the Games next year.
In February of this year, President Vladimir Putin fired Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) vice-president Akhmed Bilalov after he held him responsible for the delay in the completion of the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, which was also estimated to be well over budget following its completion in July, from an original $40 million (£26 million/€30 million) to $265 million (£163 million/€189 million).
Despite promising a "brilliant" Games, Putin recently admitted that there were still "ongoing glitches" in preparations for Sochi 2014 and warned organisers that he would be visiting the Black Sea city more often in the build up to the event to ensure preparations remained on track.
But Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014 President and chief executive, remains positive that the Games will turn out to be a success.
"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."
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October 2012: IOC Coordination Commission remains highly impressed with Sochi 2014 preparations
February 2013: IOC Coordination Commission leave Sochi "very satisfied" by progress
April 2010: Sochi 2014 preparations "awe-inspiring" say IOC Coordination Commission