Moscow town wants 2014 events if Sochi fails
By Gennady Fyodorov
PARAMONOVO, Russia (Reuters) - Moscow region officials have said
they could host the 2014 Olympic bobsleigh and luge events if the
Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi can not build the track on time.
"If the situation with Sochi becomes difficult, we are ready to
help," the head of the Dmitrov region Valery Gavrilov told a news
conference at the weekend at the conclusion of a junior World Cup luge
event in the town of Paramonovo.
While Russian officials say the construction of all 2014 venues are
on schedule and IOC president Jacques Rogge told reporters during his
visit to Moscow in October he was happy with Sochi's progress, the
bobsleigh and luge track has given local organisers a major headache.
In July, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered organisers
to move the track to another location after the original site was
criticised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as
Putin said the move has been agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Sochi needs to build most of the venues and infrastructure from
scratch, but Gavrilov said his town had a world-class facility ready to
host major international events.
He said moving Olympic bobsleigh and luge events to Paramonovo, a
small town about 30km north of Moscow, would also make sense from the
economic point of view.
"Our track cost $50 million while Sochi's track would cost almost three times that much," he said.
Gavrilov added that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev liked the idea of Paramonovo hosting the Olympic events.
"When Medvedev opened our track in March 2008 he told (Deputy Prime
Minister in charge of Olympic preparations Alexander) Zhukov that it
could be used for the 2014 Games, but was told that such a big country
like ours needs not one but several bobsleigh and luge tracks,"
Gavrilov told Reuters.
Spokesman for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Gennady Shvets said there were no plans to move any events from Sochi.
"A master plan calls for all sporting events of the 2014 Games to
be held in Sochi but it's always a good idea to have a back-up site,
just in case," Shvets said.
A spokesperson for the 2014 Sochi organising committee said they would make no comment on the matter.
The International Luge Federation (FIL) said the Paramonovo track
met all their standards but the FIBT, world governing body for
bobsleigh, has yet to certify it.
"It was only a matter of time. I think by March we'll get the
necessary certificate from the FIBT," Gavrilov said. "Next year we
already plan to host a senior World Cup luge meet here and bobsleigh
will not be too far away."
(Editing by Alison Wildey
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