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Culture news
Governor Sets Sights On Hosting Olympics
07.13.2007 13:11

olympic_games By Galina Stolyarova

Staff Writer

Inspired by the success of the southern Russian city of Sochi, which has won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Governor Valentina Matviyenko has announced that St. Petersburg will put itself forward as a candidate city for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Speaking at the Ekho Moskvy radio station, Matviyenko revealed the city had intended to participate in the run for the 2016 Olympics but Sochi’s victory put an end to the ambitious plan.

"I am not disappointed for St. Petersburg," Matviyenko said. “It is not only Sochi that is going to benefit from the Olympics. Sochi’s victory is set to give an enormous boost to sport in the country. It will also make sport fashionable and prestigious, which is an especially important factor in getting young people interested.”

“Of course, St. Petersburg would not stand a chance as a possible host of the 2016 Summer Games because there is a rotation principle in the selection process, but we will certainly prepare a bid for the 2020 Games,” she added.

St. Petersburg had previously applied to host the 2004 Summer Games but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) turned down the bid before it reached the final vote. Those games were eventually held in Athens, Greece.

Unlike Sochi, a popular summer resort, where facilities for winter sports will have to be built from scratch in nearby mountains, St. Petersburg already boasts a number of sports complexes and arenas.

The city has hosted top-flight winter sports competitions, including the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2000. Every year, the city’s Ice Palace plays host to the Cup of Russia figure skating competition — or ISU Grand Prix Cup of Russia — an event in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series, also known as the Champions Series.

A modern, brand-new training center for winter sports is being built in the Leningrad oblast to serve as a major training base for the Russian athletes nearing the 2014 Sochi Games — and apparently with an eye toward St. Petersburg’s own Olympic bid.

“It is no longer a secret that we are building a huge multi-functional center in the outskirts of St. Petersburg,” said persidential property manager Vladimir Kozhin.

The center is slated to welcome its first visitors in 2010.

Leningrad oblast governor Valery Serdyukov said the center will be located in a picturesque part of the Karelian Isthmus, around 20 kilometers from St. Petersburg.

Russia’s Olympic Committee and the Russian government took the construction under their control when Sochi won the 2014 bid at an IOC vote held in Guatemala.

“We launched the construction about a year ago, and the center was not originally meant as an Olympic facility,” Serdyukov told reporters on Monday. “With Sochi's win the significance of the training base has grown immensely.”

The Sochi Olympics has a budget of $12 billion but this is likely to grow. London’s 2012 Summer Games budget has grown by threefold and now stands at $18.5 billion. The budget for the games in Athens also increased by three times during the preparatory process, and it eventually cost $14 billion.

Russia hosted the Olympic Games in 1980, when it was still part of the Soviet Union.

Moscow attempted to receive the 1976 Olympics but lost to Canada’s Montreal in the final vote, and then competed for the 2012 Games without success.

Sochi had bid for the 2012 Summer Games but failed to make the short-list.

Svetlana Zhurova, who won Olympic gold in speed skating at the Turin Winter Games in 2006, is one of the coordinators of the Sochi’s Olympic bid. A resident of St. Petersburg and a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad oblast, Zhurova said St. Petersburg has a good chance of winning the right to host the Olympic Games but with one condition: upon submitting the application, the city had to be fully armed with a strong infrastructure and sports facilitites.

“Sochi’s scenario — where a huge amount of trust was put into a place where no infrastructure exists for winter sports — is not going to work for another Russian city,” she said. “At least 80 percent of all facilities have to be ready by the time the city hands its application over to IOC.”

Another important question for any Olympic Games is how to keep the sports facilities busy after the prestigious event is over. For example, the Athens Games are infamous for holding the most expensive games in history that left giant stadiums to gather dust rather than spectators.

The most profitable games were held in Los Angeles in 1984, while the games in Montreal in 1976 turned out to be a financial disaster, leaving the organizers with losses of $1.2 billion. Canadian taxpayers are still paying it off.

News source: times.spb.ru
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