Biggest concern for Sochi 2014 is Russia's athletes don't perform, admits Deputy Prime Minister
Sunday, 15 January 2012
January 15 - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak has revealed here his biggest concern for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is, not that the venues will not be ready in time, but that Russia's top athletes put in poor performances at the competition and finish low down on the overall medal table.
Russia came in for heavy criticism after a poor performance at the Vancouver Winter 2010 Olympics after they finished a disastrous 11th on the medal table, their worst performance since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Kozak said that he has no great concerns about whether the venues will be ready in time as he is confident that they will be but he admitted he is worried that Russia's athletes may put in another poor performance in front of an expectant home crowd and fail to fulfil their target of coming top of the medals table.
"My main concern is for Russian sportsmen and sportswomen [competing at Sochi 2014] because the Games will be in Russia," said Kozak, who is overseeing Sochi's preparations and is here attending the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
"It is going to be a huge regret if our own sportspeople don't perform at their best.
"Regarding the infrastructure, we don't have any concerns whatsoever.
"We will be able to prepare for the Olympics and host them well so my concern is with the athletes and not with the infrastructure."
Kozak also dismissed concerns that there will be delays in constructing all the venues, such as the Bolshoi Ice Palace (pictured), which is due to host the ice hockey, in time for the Olympic and Paralympics despite recent reports suggesting that as many as 70 of them are behind schedule.
"We are thinking about major developments in the Sochi region," he said.
"Overall, there are 400 venues that have to be constructed and having 70 of them [behind schedule] is not such a huge delay in that context.
"In the end, I think that we will be able to finish everything in time and any delays that there are at the moment won't affect the Olympics."
Kozak added that hosting the 2014 Olympic and Paralympics and then the 2018 FIFA World Cup shortly after presents a major opportunity to help grow sport in Russia and one that the country is looking to capitalise on.
"The Olympics and the World Cup is very important for the country and it will have a very important heritage for the country," he explained.
"At the moment, we can see that there are many more people interested in sport in Russia because of these events.
"The development of the region is also very important to us as Sochi is the only subtropical region in Russia and we are working to create this region with sport at the centre."
January 2011: Putin backs Russian athletes preparations for Sochi 2014 with massive cash injection
August 2011: Russia launches new strategy to ensure they remain global sporting powerhouse
June 2010: Report finds Russian preparations for Vancouver compromised by corruption
May 2010: Russia must finish top in Sochi warns new Olympic chief
April 2010: More pressure on Mutko to resign after Russian Parliament slams Vancouver display