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SBD Global/September 26, 2013/OlympicsPrint All
Russian authorities "declared a state of emergency in Sochi and evacuated a village because of flooding and mudslides" less than five months before the city hosts the Winter Olympics, according to Danilova & Shemetov of REUTERS. Knee-high puddles in the city center "caused long traffic jams after heavy rain," and firefighters "were pumping water from the streets." The regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said that a highway leading to some of the Alpine event venues "was flooded by up to 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) of water, which emergency workers said they were trying to drain." Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov told state TV that "he had no doubt Sochi would be ready for the Games," which open on Feb. 7 and will be "a crucial part of President Vladimir Putin's legacy" (REUTERS, 9/25).
BAD TIMING: RIA NOVOSTI reported the weather problems "overshadowed" the IOC coordination commission’s last visit to Sochi. IOC inspectors "are making their final checks on Sochi’s preparations for the Winter Olympics." Despite the troubles, Russian officials "have insisted everything remains on track for the Olympics themselves, and the IOC commission is expected to confirm that on Thursday" (RIA NOVOSTI, 9/25).
As Sochi Winter Olympic constructors "put the final touches to the world’s longest bobsled track," its supervisor Vyacheslav Shavlev said that "it was 'one of the safest tracks in the world' with three uphill sections designed to slow competitors who build up a dangerous head of steam," according to R-SPORT. But even that "cannot ensure there will not be accidents" come February. Shavlev said, "If an athlete comes here and doesn’t have enough experience of negotiating these kinds of tracks … I can’t give any kind of guarantee whatsoever. This (safety) is the responsibility of the coach and the competition organizers. I answer for the track, and today, in my opinion, the track is extremely safe" (R-SPORT, 9/25).
The annual cost of an IOC president has shot through the $700,000 barrier. Former IOC President Jacques Rogge's residence expenses amounted to $751,000 in '11 and $709,000 in '12. Apart from these expenses, which cover room rent, living costs, residence taxes and insurance -- and add up to not far off $2,000 a day -- the IOC presidency "is an unremunerated position" (INSIDE THE GAMES, 9/25). ... Ongoing talks between two int'l taekwondo bodies on allowing North Koreans to compete in the Olympic Games "could wrap up sometime next year." World Taekwondo Federation President Choue Chung-won said that "his organization has held talks with the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation on letting athletes compete in each other's events." Currently, only the global body is sanctioned by the IOC, while the North's organization "is not recognized by the Olympic committee" (YONHAP, 9/25).