The Volgograd suicide attacks prove that terrorism is a global threat, but Russia has everything to ensure top-level security during the Winter Olympics it’s hosting next month, the head of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko said.
“From the beginning of the construction phase, security was given paramount importance in the preparations for the Games,” Chernyshenko told RT's Paul Scott in Sochi. “And in the opinion of all international experts and the IOC [International Olympic committee], the Russian state authority is providing incredible measures and procedures to guarantee the safest and the most secure Games ever.”
Two suicide bombings left 34 people dead in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, situated only 700 kilometers from Sochi, just before the New Year.
The terrorist attacks raised doubts among some about Russia’s ability to guarantee security during the Olympics, but the head of the Organizing Committee is confident that athletes and fans will have nothing to fear during the big event.
“It’s a really calm and friendly environment. All security is in place. And I want to ensure you that despite the global threat of terrorism, here in Sochi everybody will be protected,” Chernyshenko stressed.
He also answered the skeptics, who criticized the Russian Games for being over-budget, calling such claims “mere speculation.”
The operation budget for Sochi 2014 stands at about $2.2 billion, which is “roughly the same” as those of the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010, he stressed.
According to the official, the construction of Olympic related infrastructure, including a power plant and sewerage system in Sochi has cost around $7 billion, with “half of that, provided by public funds.”
It’s the exact sum that was announced by Russia in the bid book for the Games back in 2005, he stressed.
“The figures that sometimes appear in the media have nothing to do with the Olympic infrastructure. It may be some figures relevant to renovation in the Krasnodar Region as a whole [where Sochi is situated],” Chernyshenko added.
With a month to go before the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter
Olympics, the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi is 100
percent geared up to host the Games, the Organizing Committee’s
“Russia is ready to host the most innovative and compact Games ever. Everything is in place. We have already switched to Olympic mode with transportation system, access to the venue and, of course, operations,” he said.
The first ever Winter Olympics staged on Russian soil are going to be “outstanding” in many ways, with athletes competing in 98 disciplines and a record television audience following the competition, Chernyshenko said.
The officials also said that the city of Sochi has benefited greatly from the Games, improving “from an ordinary Soviet-style resort to a really international all-year-round winter and summer sports destination and a hotspot to come.”
“Sochi is a beautiful city. It’s a subtropical city. This is really outstanding that we’re hosting the Winter Games here… But the most important thing is that everything is state-of-the-art and purpose-built to host the most compact and efficient Games ever,” he said.
Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi hosts the Winter Olympics from February 7 to 23, with the Paralympics to follow from March 7 to 16.
President Vladimir Putin, who has celebrated Orthodox Christmas in Sochi, is currently inspecting the state of the city’s readiness for the Olympics.