Putin fires top Olympic committee member for delays ahead of Sochi Games

Cost of games now five times original estimate

by Emily Senger

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a ski jumping complex in Krasnaya Polyana near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia on Feb. 6, 2013. (Sergei Karpukhin, Pool/AP)

With one year to go before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, President Vladimir Putin has fired a top member of the planning committee amid cost overruns and delays.

News that Putin fired Akhmed Bilalov, vice-president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, came the day after Putin toured Olympic sites along with delegates from the International Olympic Committee. “People who do not fulfil their obligations on such a scale cannot lead the Olympic movement in our country,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told reporters.

During a tour of the ski jump facility, Putin learned that not only was the project behind schedule, its cost had also ballooned from 1.2 billion rubles ($40 million) to 8 billion rubles ($265 million), reports The Associated Press.

Despite this, Putin assured those on the tour that everything was on track for 2014. “Overall, work is going according to plan,” Putin told reporters during the tour. “I have no doubt that all the sites will be ready on time and with the appropriate quality.”

The ski-jump facility isn’t the only one over budget. With 365 days to go before the opening ceremony, the estimated cost of the Games has now reached $50 billion, more than five times the original estimated cost, reports Reuters.




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