Sochi 2014 Chief Chernyshenko Says Preparations Are 'On Track'
Sochi 2014 Organizing Committe President Dmitry Chernyshenko, gave an update on the Sochi Games preparations in an interview with SI.COM's Brian Cazeneuve.
Q: How is Sochi progressing?
Chernyshenko: It's the world's biggest construction site. It's more than 55,000 people working 24/7. It's a big, big job. But everything is on track despite some criticism.
Q: What did you learn when you went to Vancouver and what do you hope to learn, even though it's a Summer Games, from visiting London?
Chernyshenko: It was 1950 when the infrastructure of Sochi was built. We have a challenge to follow the logic that every Games should be different and better. Vancouver did a great job. They created a unique atmosphere. ... We are sending more than 200 people who will be with the organizing committee in London. More than 200 Sochi proud volunteers, the cream of the [crop], will be working in London. We have a different task at our hands. We have 10 times more venues we need to build. We're in a very different starting position, to create and demonstrate to the world the face of the new modern Russia.
Q: I just want to confirm your budget numbers are still accurate: the construction budget of $6.5 billion U.S. and an organizational budget of $2 billion.
Chernyshenko: That's absolutely correct. I'm in charge of the budget to deliver the Games. We already secured $1.2 billion from the marketing program. The rest is coming from other sources. We're the most successful organizing committee so far in terms of the amount of partners we attracted through our marketing program for the Games.
Q: Let me ask you about security. Last month there was talk of a terrorist plot aimed at the Games that was foiled. Every Olympics has security concerns, but how would you convince an athlete or a spectator who is coming there that everything will be safe for them?
Chernyshenko: You're right. Show me the event, any major event in the world where security is not an issue. London has faced security issues and has managed them brilliantly. It's no different for us. Traditionally organizers are not directly involved in security issues. But I know the state is doing everything to keep the image of Sochi the safest and most comfortable city.
Q: But 10 caches of arms and missile-firing devices and ethnic unrest so close by? To an outsider that raises concern. Are you convinced that's under control at this point?
Chernyshenko: You know the situation in general is not easy in the world. That is why the host nation should be ready for any scenario. I know everything that is needed will be there to protect the Games.
Q: How is hotel construction coming?
Chernyshenko: We're building about 28,000 different hotel rooms, [and they are] already on track. Many of them already obtained the international chain representative. You have to understand the scale of the work. We're building a new city surrounding the Olympic park, with the overall capacity up to 70,000 people.
Q: Do you fear that [Sochi] might lose some of its character?
Chernyshenko: It's not about character; it's about legacy. ... My favorite example of the legacy now that has made a transformation of the society is that we created a culture that was not present in our country before. I'm talking about volunteerism. Now we have 100,000 volunteers across Russia, even though for the Games time, we will need just 25,000, but we are using preparation of the Games as an example for the future generation of people who want to do something positive in our country (SI.COM, 6/14).