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Volume 6 No. 216


Tickets for next year’s Winter Paralympics in Sochi "went on sale Friday," but Russia’s top Paralympic official "warned the competition could be marred by swathes of empty seats," according to R-SPORT. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev "was on hand for the start of ticket sales at a small ceremony in Sochi, and vowed to be present for the Games in March." Most tickets are priced at between 350 and 450 rubles ($11 to $14) -- less than the cheapest tickets for February’s Winter Olympics -- with the most expensive opening ceremony tickets running to 5,000 rubles ($154). Russian Paralympic Committee head Mikhail Terentyev said, "At the moment there are big dangers regarding the filling of the stands with spectators. Big sports facilities have been built, a big park and so far the International Paralympic Committee regards with a certain caution the Sochi 2014 organizing committee’s plans to attract spectators" (R-SPORT, 9/27).

The Olympic flame for the Sochi Winter Games was lit Sunday at a ceremony at the site of the ancient games in Olympia, "kicking off a weeklong relay that will see it travel through Greece before arriving in Russia." At the ceremony attended by senior Olympic and Russian officials, "the flame was lit using the sun's rays reflected on a large parabolic mirror," a traditional method that symbolizes the approval of the gods to host the Games (MOSCOW TIMES, 9/29). ... IOC President Thomas Bach said on Sunday that the IOC "will not tolerate any discrimination at next year's Sochi Winter Games following a controversial Russian anti-gay law." Bach: "We are very clear that we will not tolerate any form of discrimination. The task of the IOC is that the Olympic charter is applied 100 percent" (REUTERS, 9/29). ... An audit into the finances of the 2016 Rio Olympics "shows preparations are behind schedule with earmarked state cash largely unspent." The Brazilian sports ministry has set aside a budget of 1.6B reais ($712M) toward "the staging of South America's first Olympics and the Paralympics thereafter." But an audit by the Brasilia-based national auditing office, TCU, has shown that only 5% of that funding "has been spent" (GULF TODAY, 9/28).