MOSCOW: Vladimir Putin’s focus on the use of sport to project the ‘new Russia’ was underlined when the newly sworn-in President Vladimir Putin promised no political issue would be allowed to disrupt preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and for the 2018 World Cup.
Putin’s first meeting after the ceremony which ended his stint as Prime Minister was with IOC president Jacques Rogge on a day that saw riot police face down protestors in central Moscow calling for Putin’s resignation.
“Regardless of our internal political events, I want to assure you that the presidential structures, I personally, the government of the Russian Federation will give priority attention to – we attach great importance to preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games,” said Putin. “Our joint work will continue.”
Rogge and Jean-Claude Killy, president of the IOC’s coordination committee for Sochi 2014, both attended Putin’s inauguration ceremony. Putin and Rogge also met last month.
Rogge responded by saying that Russia enjoyed the prospect of a “shining future of world sport.”
Rogge reeled off a list of events that he said signified Russia’s promising sporting future, including the 2013 Universiade and Formula One’s Russian Grand Prix, scheduled to start in Sochi in 2014, the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow and the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan.
He said: “It’s not just about the Winter Olympics in Sochi, it’s also about the football World Cup that will take place in Russia in 2013, in Kazan the Universiade will take place, Formula One races will be held in your country, the world championships in athletics and swimming. In other words, a shining future of world sport awaits Russia.”
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