MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Olympic Committee’s Vice President Akhmed Bilalov has been fired after President Vladimir Putin yesterday criticized delays and cost-overruns in construction of ski jumps for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
"The orders have been issued, [Bilalov] will be relieved from his posts," Dmitry Kozak, the Deputy Prime Minister overseeing the Olympics preparations, said on Thursday. Bilalov will also dismissed from his post as board chairman of the North Caucasus Resorts company, which is working on a multi-billion dollar ski resort cluster in a nearby part of the country's turbulent North Caucasus region.
“People who don’t fulfil their obligations on such a scale cannot manage the Olympic movement in our country,” Kozak added.
Putin toured one of the Olympic venues, Roza Khutor, on Wednesday and scolded state officials over the unfinished ski jump facility, construction of which was formerly overseen by Bilalov. Kozak said the facility was originally supposed to be finished back in 2011, but is now due to be completed this summer.
Sberbank, Russia's main state-controlled lender, took over the Krasnaya Polyana construction company in May, after costs rose from $40 million to $265 million, Kozak explained to Putin.
“Well done! You are doing a good job,” Putin said with clear sarcasm in reports on state-run Channel One television.
Bilalov, who was's present during Putin's tour, was not available for comment on the issue.
Test events planned at the RusSki Gorki jump facility last year were cancelled due to the construction delays, but the site has hosted World Cup ski jumping and Nordic combined this season, R-Sport reported.
The dismissal announcement came after Putin met an International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation in Sochi on Wednesday, including Jean-Claude Killy, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the games.
Eighty percent of construction work for the Sochi Olympics has been completed so far, Killy said.
Russia began a one-year countdown on Thursday to the opening of the Games, which will cost over $50 billion, according to Kozak - the most expensive winter games ever.