THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
INNSBRUCK, Austria — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak acknowledged Sunday that more than 70 construction projects for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games are behind schedule but denied the Olympics would be affected.
Kozak said during a visit to the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck that the venues in question are almost ready and that only formalities were causing the delays.
"They are not major delays," he said through a translator. "All in all, there are 400 venues that have to be constructed and 70 of them isn’t such a huge delay. Basically, all these venues are built. The delays are related to some paperwork.
"In the end, I think we’ll finish everything in time. Speaking about the infrastructure, we don’t have any concern whatsoever. My main concern is the success of our Russian sportsmen. It’s going to be a huge regret if our own sportsmen don’t perform to their best."
The International Olympic Committee warned Russian officials two years ago that construction delays could threaten their ambitious plans for the 2014 Games, which included building all new facilities.
However, IOC’s co-ordination commission for Sochi has since said the construction of venues had been proceeding at an impressive pace.
Russia won its bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2007 and plans to invest US$80 billion in the development of the Sochi and Krasnodar region.
"This project will have a very important heritage for the country," Kozak said. "This is the only subtropical region in Russia. We are working to make it into a very popular resort."