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Russia to spend $7 bln if Sochi wins 2014 Olympics bid - Gref

ST. PETERSBURG, June 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's government will allocate 190 billion rubles ($7.01 billion) for the southern resort of Sochi if it wins the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the economics minister said Wednesday.

A federal program for Sochi unveiled by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov in March, aims to transform the Black Sea resort, already a popular destination for thousands of vacationing Russians, into a world-class sports venue by building new facilities and modernizing old ones.

And Economic Development and Trade Minster German Gref pledged billions of dollars over eight years at a regional development presentation in St. Petersburg.

"A decision had been made to allocate 190 billion rubles between 2006 and 2014," he said, adding that if Sochi failed in its bid, the government would allocate less money, though he declined to specify the sum.

Sochi bid for the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, but failed to win the right to host the Games largely because of its poor-quality Soviet-era infrastructure.

Construction is already under way of new hotels and alpine skiing slopes at Krasnaya Polyana, the centerpiece of the Russian town's Olympic bid and a favorite spot of President Vladimir Putin, as well as in neighboring resort city of Gelendzhik, where 170 new hotels are also under construction.

The winning city for the 2014 event will be unveiled in July 2007 in Guatemala City.

Six other European and Asian cities are bidding for the XXII Olympic Winter Games: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Borjomi, Georgia; Jaca, Spain; Pyeong Chang, South Korea; Salzburg, Austria; and Sofia, Bulgaria.

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