Putin invites visitors to 2014 Sochi Olympics

Sochi, Feb 8 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian president Vladimir Putin has invited visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games due to be held in the southern Russian resort of Sochi on the Black Sea next February.

"We invite to Russia all those who love sports and fair uncompromising struggle," Putin said at a ceremony to mark one year before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics Thursday.

"In 2007, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) supported the Olympic dream of millions of Russian nationals. We are doing everything possible to justify the confidence," Putin said, adding that he hoped the Sochi Games would take world sports to a qualitatively new level.

IOC president Jacques Rogge, who was present at the ceremony, said he did not doubt Sochi would be ready to host the Olympics. Putin personally lobbied IOC officials in 2007 to ensure Russia was granted its first Winter Games.

Russia had spent 1.1 trillion rubles ($36.7 billion) on preparatory events for the 2014 Games by the start of 2013, according to documents prepared for a first meeting Feb 1 of the state commission responsible for preparing for the Games.

Earlier Thursday, Putin called on Sochi 2014 organisers to redouble their efforts in one final push to stage the Games without a hitch.

"In order to make the success complete, we still need to work intensively, redoubling our efforts," he said on a visit to the Olympic Park.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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