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Wrap: Russia celebrates Sochi Olympic win, vows fantastic games

Over 30,000 people who waited all night on the main square of Russia's resort city of Sochi, as well as millions across the country were rewarded early Thursday, as Russia was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
MOSCOW, July 5 (RIA Novosti) - Over 30,000 people who waited all night on the main square of Russia's resort city of Sochi, as well as millions across the country were rewarded early Thursday, as Russia was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Russia's Sochi was named to host the Olympics after a tight second-round vote with South Korea's Pyeongchang during the 119th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Guatemala.

Sochi, which had made two previous bids to hold the Winter Olympics in 1998 and 2002, received a slight four-vote majority over South Korea, while Austria's Salzburg, who was earlier tipped to win, was eliminated in the first round.

The Winter Olympics will be held in Russia for the first time in its history, although Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics in 1980, but the event was marred when over 60 countries boycotted the event in the capital of Russia.


Before the IOC held the voting and announced the results Sochi, Pyeongchang, and Salzburg gave hour-long presentations of their programs followed by 30-minute news conferences. Russia was the first to give its presentation, followed by Austria and South Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who flew in specially to be captain of the Sochi bidding committee, took the audience by surprise, delivering his speech in English and making closing statements in French to honor the two official languages of the IOC.

"We will do our best to make the games in Sochi secure and pleasant for the athletes, spectators, journalists and guests at the Olympics and Paralympics," the Russian president said, adding he would make sure that roads around the facilities were not hampered by traffic jams.

"Winter sports are very popular in Russia. Our athletes have won many competitions and contributed greatly to the Olympic movement," Putin said. "But we have never had the honor of hosting the Winter Olympics."

The president guaranteed that the Olympic facilities would be built on time, and said the government had allocated $12 billion for the purpose.


But Putin did not stay in Guatemala for the final result and heard the good news on board a plane on his way back to Moscow.

Alexei Gromov, a presidential spokesman, said Putin immediately called IOC President Jacques Rogge and thanked him for the committee's impartial decision.

"The president of Russia called IOC President Jacques Rogge from his plane," Gromov said. "He thanked Rogge and the rest of the IOC members for their cooperation and unbiased decision in favor of Sochi as host of the Olympic Games. Putin and Rogge agreed to maintain contacts."

Upon arrival in Moscow Putin signed a decree on the preparation and holding of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi.

Shortly after the announcement of the results, Russia signed an official contract with the IOC to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Following the signing, Rogge said at the news conference that the committee was happy with their choice of venue, as the games were not only supported by the majority of Russians, but also received strong governmental backing.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the Sochi bidding committee, promised the IOC "fantastic" Olympic Games in Russia.

"Your trust [in Russia] has been a great inspiration for us for two years, and we will not let you down," he said. "The Olympic Games in Russia will be fantastic and will be valuable both for Russia and for the Olympic Committee."


Not everything ran smoothly for Sochi on its way to become the 2014 Olympics venue as earlier, environmental group Greenpeace filed a lawsuit with the Russian Supreme Court requesting the closing down of a federal targeted program for Sochi's development in 2006-2014.

Environmentalists claimed that the construction of sports and tourist facilities failed to observe environmental legislation, but that holding the Olympics in Sochi was possible if the project caused no significant damage to the environment.

The Supreme Court ruled March 21 that the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi was lawful, and on June 5 the Cassation Board of the Supreme Court upheld the previous decision rejecting an appeal from Greenpeace.

Under the federal targeted program, which has a $12 billion budget, 580 kilometers (360 miles) of roads will be reconstructed and built near Sochi for the Olympics.

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