Exclusive: Lviv 2022 chief executive optimistic bid will go ahead despite Ukraine crisis

Friday, 28 February 2014
By Duncan Mackay

Sergey Bubka launching the logo for Lviv 2022 with Ukraine's former Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Vilkul, who has now been dismissed by Parliament ©Sergey BubkaFebruary 28 - Lviv is continuing to work on its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics despite the current political crisis in Ukraine, the campaign's chief executive Sergej Gontcharov has told insidethegames.

Viktor Yanukovych was ousted as President of Ukraine last week following months of violent protests and has now fled to Russia, while a new Government led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has been set-up in his absence and was approved by Parliament yesterday. 

Among those to have been dismissed from power since the fall of Yanukovych is Oleksandr Vilkul, the Deputy Prime Minister with special responsibility for infrastructure, who had been nominally acting as the leader of the bid. 

He was sacked by Parliament yesterday.

"Despite the difficult circumstances, we are continuing to work and do our best," Gontcharov told insidethegames.   

"Our Applicant File is 95 per cent ready.

"The content is ready 100 per cent."

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a big supporter of Lviv's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics ©NOCUOusted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a big supporter of Lviv's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics ©NOCU

An added problem for Lviv is Ukraine's growing financial problems.

It has been claimed that the country needs $35 billion (£21 billion/€25 billion) of funding to help it stave off bankruptcy.

Gontcharov is nevertheless hopeful that the bid will receive the necessary backing from Ukraine's leadership.

"Obviously, the bid depends on what is happening on the Government level," he said.

"At the moment, we have not had any talks with new leaders.

"I believe that this is understandable as there are more important things in Ukraine right now.

"Which does not mean that the bid is not important, but that the situation in Ukraine has more urgent processes to address to.

"We are patient and hope for more clarity by the end of next week."

The five cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which also include Almaty, Beijing, Kraków and Oslo, have to submit their initial plans to the International Olympic Committee by March 14. 

"In any case, we will submit our Applicant File," said Gontcharov.

"During the last months respective documents in support of the bid have been signed and approved by all stakeholders: Government, Region, City, NOC (National Olympic Committee). 

"Nobody has withdrawn those decisions.

"I also do not expect the new Government to act any different towards our bid.

"Representatives of the new ruling parties had approved the bid during the Regional Council and City Council votes.

"Still, I do acknowledge that our situation is challenging, but we are not giving up because this project is important for Ukraine."

Lviv 2022 presented their bid concept to the world's press during Sochi 2014 when their team included now sacked Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Vilkul ©NOCULviv 2022 presented their bid concept to the world's press during Sochi 2014 when their team included now sacked Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Vilkul ©NOCU

It is clear that Gontcharov and Sergey Bubka, President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, are refusing to give up on their hopes of a successful bid from Lviv, a city less affected by the troubles than in the capital Kiev, although one person was killed there last week. 

"We have worked very hard on our bid and of course we still dream of hosting the Games in Lviv," said Gontcharov. 

"We remain hopeful that the dream of hosting the 2022 Winter Games will help further a peaceful dialogue in Ukraine. 

"The project 'Lviv2022', the concept that is based on real needs and the legacy that it can create, is something that we still strive for.

"It is a project that is needed for our country regardless of bidding and would benefit generations to come, irrespective of current events.

"The bid, our dream of hosting the Winter Games, has the potential to unite our people.

"This is the power of sports and the beauty of the Olympic ideals."

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