Maksim Agapitov, a weightlifting world champion in 1997, shared with Russia Today his view on Sochi's chances of hosting the 2014 Olympics.
Russia Today: There is a lot of excitement across Russia about Sochi's bid. But in Sochi itself some locals are divided about whether they want the Olympics to come to their home. Surely, among sportsmen the mood is quite bright?
Maksim Agapitov: I think that it is normal that the people are divided, because some people like sports and some people do not. That is why it is normal, it is regular. My idea, my opinion is that it is very interesting for Russian sportsmen because first of all it is the highest level of responsibility for all sportsmen who participate in this competition. And if it is in Russia, in Sochi – it is really very exciting for Russian sportsmen.
RT: You've competed in sports at the highest level and were 1997 World Champion. Do you feel that today Russia is ready to take on the mantle of being an Olympic host city?
M.A.: I feel that Russia is very developed now and I, as a Russian, of course suppose that we are ready. But of course if we talk more realisticly we need to develop a lot of things and I think that we have time before this Olympic Games. If we have this time and support from the government we can do it, everything.
RT: When you say things still need to be developed what are the top two or three things that need to be done to bring Russia up to that standard?
M.A.: First of all, I think, it is to build up the arenas for competitions, stadiums and prepare everything for all kinds of sports that we have in Olympic Games. This goes first and to my opinion it is a question of decision: would we like to have this competition? If we want we can do everything. I think in history if you look back you will see that everything is possible.
RT: Of course Russia want to host the 2014 Winter Olympics but how do you estimate the chances for the coming Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010? Russia has always been strong in Winter Games, in winter sports.
M.A.: Absolutely, I think that all I can say about the chance is that we can suppose, we can do everything but the chances are God given. That is why I think that of course we have all chances to get wins in this competition on the best level.
RT: Well, of course we carry it live and the big decision comes but regardless of the vote Sochi is going to get new facilities. Do you see it as a city with a lot of attractions for professional and amateur sportsmen?
M.A.: I think that anyway whether we win or not it is a very good situation for Russia and for Sochi especially because in any case it will be another very nice sport center to maybe get hope for the future to host high level competitions like Olympic Games, if not now then next time.
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