MOSCOW, March 24 (R-Sport) - Russian President Vladimir Putin bestowed one of the country's highest civilian awards Monday upon officials tasked with organizing the Sochi Olympics for their role in ensuring the success of the Games.
Last month’s Winter Olympics on the Black Sea coast were widely lauded as one of the most successful in history, including by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who called them a true “athletes’ Games.”
At a lavish ceremony in the Kremlin on Monday, Putin handed out the state order For Merit to the Fatherland, 1st Class, to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, the government's Olympic supervisor, with Dmitry Chernyshenko, the CEO of the organizing committee, receiving the 2nd Class equivalent.
"One of the biggest legacy effects is the growth in sports participation among young people," Putin told the recipients. "And it was the athletes' performances that inspired them," he added.
Russia finished at the top of the medal count for both the Olympics and the Paralympics, a result that few saw coming based on the performances of its athletes in the run-up to the Games.
Others bestowed the 2nd Class honor were Konstantin Ernst, the creative director of Channel One television who choreographed the acclaimed opening and closing ceremonies, and Alexander Tkachev, the governor of Krasnodar Region, where Sochi is located.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko received the 3rd Class honor. Various awards also went to 35 other officials including Russian Biathlon Union president and Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov and Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov.