The IOC said on Thursday the Russian city of Sochi would be ready to host the 2014 Winter Games and a national law banning "gay propaganda" did not violate the Olympic Charter, according to Maxin Shemetov of REUTERS. An IOC delegation said after inspecting facilities in the Black Sea resort that, "despite flooding this week and work that has turned much of the city into a muddy construction site, the 'magnificent' sporting venues were already completed." Sochi IOC Coordination Commission Chair Jean-Claude Killy said, "We often say that there is no time to waste as the clock ticks down to the Opening Ceremony, and this still stands true. But to see how far the local organizers have come over the last six years is quite simply remarkable -- the competition venues are ready; the spirit of the Games is awakening here; and the athletes, spectators and all others who visit next February can expect a fabulous experience" (REUTERS, 9/26). R-SPORT reported heavy rains in Sochi this week caused the worst flooding there in years, "leading to several road closures and raising some fears that a repeat of the situation in February could bring the Games to a standstill." But Killy insisted that "there was nothing to worry about." Killy: "It wouldn't stop the Games. I understand this is a historic event. It would go unnoticed during the Games" (R-SPORT, 9/26). BLOOMBERG's Alex Duff wrote Russia "deployed 1,780 emergency-service workers to clear floods in the Sochi region." A government statement said that "the task force pumped out water from waterlogged homes and reinforced roads and river banks in low-lying areas." The subtropical city "will host Russia's first winter games from Feb. 7-23" (BLOOMBERG, 9/25).
HQ PROTESTS: The INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES reported police "arrested several gay activists who unfurled protest banners picketing the 2014 Sochi Olympics organising committee headquarters in the Russian capital Moscow on Wednesday" (IB TIMES, 9/25).
OLYMPIC LIFTOFF: The AFP reported an American and two Russians Thursday boarded the Int'l Space Station "after a lightning journey from Earth, on a mission that will see the Olympic torch for the 2014 Sochi Games taken into space for the first time." Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky are expected to "make history during the mission by carrying into open space the Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Games that Russia is hosting in February in the Black Sea city of Sochi" (AFP, 9/26).