Medvedev confident ahead of Sochi 2014 but admits success not guaranteed

Saturday, 28 December 2013
By Nick Butler

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev remains confident that Sochi will be ready by the Opening Ceremony on February 7 ©Getty ImagesDecember 28 - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has admitted he is "not sure" that everything will run absolutely smoothly during next year's Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, but is confident preparations remain on course.

Several issues have been raised in the final six weeks ahead of the Opening Ceremony on February 7, ranging from adverse weather conditions and security concerns to wavering international support and although Medvedev is confident any lingering issues will be resolved, his words, as reported by the RIA Novosti news agency, illustrate a reluctance to be too overwhelmingly optimistic. 

"To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that everything will be ideal and smooth," he said.

"But I don't think we'll have the worst variant.

"I have a certain enthusiasm and I don't have any concerns about the Olympics."

Sochi 2014 is now in the final six weeks of preparations ahead of hosting the most expensive Games in Olympic history ©AFP/Getty ImagesSochi 2014 is now in the final six weeks of preparations ahead of hosting the most expensive Games in Olympic history ©AFP/Getty Images





Medvedev's words follow the reflections of Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko earlier this week after he visited Sochi to witness the late stages of preparations first hand.

Like Medvedev, Mutko was confident when he insisted all sports facilities were ready, but he also revealed some "ongoing technical issues and delays in building some accommodation".

In response to the comments from both Government Ministers, Games organisers insisted in a statement to insidethegames that "with just over five weeks to go, Sochi 2014 remains on course to be one of the most incredible Winter Games".

However, both statements can be taken as a warning against complacency and a refusal to tempt fate, with all Olympic Games inevitably having some issues to iron out at this stage. 

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has confidence in the preparations for Sochi 2014 but also highlighted some concerns ©AFP/Getty ImagesSports Minister Vitaly Mutko has confidence in the preparations for Sochi 2014 but also highlighted some concerns ©AFP/Getty Images

Security issues due to the relative proximity of Russia's politically volatile Chechnya region have led to a variety of recent security measures, including closed circuit television and surveillance drones, as well as additional anti-terrorism legislation introduced into the Russian Parliament.

Meanwhile, concerns about a lack of snow have been eased by substantial snowfall in recent weeks, but weather forecasters have also warned that a so-called "snow cyclone" may make conditions difficult for athletes in the mountains.

But the most major criticism has surrounded the supposedly homophobic laws that were introduced into the Duma - the Lower House of Russia's Parliament - earlier this year and which have provoked widespread protest and some calls for a boycott of the Games.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to be joined by any of the respective leaders of Germany, Britain, United States, France and Canada in Sochi ©AFP/Getty ImagesRussia's President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to be joined by any of the respective leaders of Germany, Britain, United States, France and Canada in Sochi ©AFP/Getty Images



Although no country has yet considered a full boycott, a number of high profile international leaders have announced that they will not attend the Games.

The list includes United States President Barrack Obama, French counterpart François Hollande and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the leaders of Belgium, Canada, Lithuania, Georgia and Moldova.

Furthermore, nation's including Britain and Germany will send at least one Government member, but are unlikely to send their respective leaders David Cameron and Angela Merkel.

However, when speaking earlier this week Russian Olympic Committee President and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Alexander Zhukov insisted that "this will in no way affect the Olympic Games or alter their significance".

"The Olympic Games are a competition for athletes and everything else is optional," he added.

"The point is the competition itself and not whether 20 or 30 leaders attend."

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