The next host of the Winter Games, Sochi, is "struggling with a lack of snow as it prepares to stage test events for the Games over the next three weeks," just one year before the Games begin, according to Nicole Jeffery of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Sochi organizing committee announced Monday it was canceling the test events for slopestyle skiing and snowboarding "due to lack of snow and continuous warm and raining weather conditions." Olympic Winter Institute of Australia CEO Geoff Lipshut understood that officials sacrificed the slopestyle event so organizers "could concentrate on getting the other course ready" -- for aerial and moguls skiing, halfpipe and ski and snowboard cross. Lipshut said of the conditions: "At lower altitudes it's pretty soft. I understand they will get the other courses done by taking snow from the slopestyle courses" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/5). In London, Roger Boyes wrote a "nervous" Putin was in Sochi "in an urgent effort to reassure locals, environmentalists and international sports figures" that his project of staging Russia’s first winter Olympics is not falling apart. According to government estimates, the Sochi Games will be the most expensive Olympics to date. At £32B ($50B), they will cost 25 times as much as the Vancouver Games in 2010. Putin said, “In setting our priorities and choosing between money and the environment, we’re choosing the environment.” But environmentalist Dmitry Shevchenko said, "The city has suffered catastrophic processes. Unique natural complexes have been destroyed and the Mzymta river partially liquidated.” Russian officials do not want to hear this criticism and "at least two activists have found themselves in the dock" (LONDON TIMES, 2/4).
The tender to build the world's largest airport in Istanbul, Turkey has been officially opened, reinforcing Istanbul 2020’s plan for quick, comfortable and convenient transport solutions for all athletes, and the wider Olympic family, should Turkey be awarded its first Olympic and Paralympic Games in '20. Istanbul's new third airport will have six runways and an annual passenger capacity of 150 million. The first phase of construction is due to be completed in three-and-half-years and is one of five major infrastructure projects taking place in the city as part of Turkey's 2023 Master Plan -- the nationwide program of long-term development. Istanbul 2020 will draw on the $1.5B average annual investment in transport infrastructure upgrades since '05 and a further $15B to be spent on projects over the next three years. These projects will significantly reduce congestion and speed up all journey times for those attending the Sochi Olympics. The winning tender will be announced in May (Istanbul 2020).