Clocks counting down the time to the start of the 2014 XXII Winter Olympic Games and the XI Winter Paralympic Games were launched in Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg, Pyatigorsk and Khabarovsk.
In Sochi, celebrations marking one year until the Games were held at the Olympic Ice Palace. Vladimir Putin and IOC President Jacques Rogge jointly pressed the symbolic button launching the countdown until the start of the Games.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: President of the International Olympic Committee, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
We are now exactly one year from the start of the XXII Winter Olympic Games and from the moment when Russia’s city of Sochi will become the centre of world sports and the planet’s best athletes will gather here in a vivid and uncompromising test of strength, skill, and will to win.
All of us, the sportspeople, competition organisers, and fans, are greatly looking forward to this event. Our anticipation is only going to grow over the next 12 months. We are now entering the time when Olympic hopes and dreams are taking on real outlines. Those hoping for the right to represent their countries in this most prestigious of sports competitions are heading for the finish line over these days.
We presented our bid in February 2007. We are fulfilling the promises we made then. The work taking place in Sochi and around is unprecedented in Russia’s modern history and indeed in the Olympic movement’s history.
The area’s unique natural conditions and the infrastructure we have put in place will make these Games the most compact and convenient for the sportspeople and the thousands of visitors. The Games will leave us a legacy of unprecedented scale that will bring enormous benefits for Sochi itself and for developing sport in Russia and around the whole world. It is enough to cite the example of the Russian International Olympic University that we established. Along with the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, it will become another magnet for all members of the Olympic family.
One of our biggest priorities is to ensure that the Olympic project creates the preconditions for turning the Sochi area into one of the world’s leading resort districts and a comfortable place for life, leisure, and sports. Aside from the proper modern infrastructure, we have also established here a nature reserve corridor that covers more than 670,000 hectares in area and will enable us to protect and develop the area’s unique natural ecosystems.
All host countries always promise to organise the very best Olympics possible of course, and make them the most interesting and memorable yet. This is something of a tradition. It is a good tradition, and it has solid justifications too, because each new Games builds on the experience of its predecessors and takes from them the very best.
I therefore take this opportunity to thank our colleagues from the International Olympic Committee and our partners from Vancouver and London, who have helped us so actively in our preparations over these years. We hope very much that you will share the upcoming celebration of sports with us, and from all our hearts we welcome to Russia everyone who is devoted to sport and honest and fair competition.
Friends, we all know how important it is to believe in your dreams and work towards them. In 2007, the IOC gave the Olympic dream to millions of people in Russia. We are now doing everything possible to give the world an Olympics that will live up in full to the confidence placed in us and take world sport to a new and even higher level.
Once again, I invite you all to come to Russia for the XXII Winter Olympics.
I wish you success and all the very best.