SOCHI, February 3 (R-Sport) – Addressing persistent criticism over the reported world record $51 billion cost of the Sochi Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee chief insisted on Monday that government spending to raise living standards in the region could not be considered Olympic costs.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak issued that figure last year, but government officials have since downsized it to just $6.4 billion, claiming that much-needed infrastructure such as roads, sewage systems and electricity substations do not amount to Olympic spending.
“The costs [of the Sochi Games] do not exceed previous Olympics,” he said.
“To transform a little bit old-fashioned summer resort into a modern, year-round sport and tourist destination – you can see this transformation – these are not Olympic costs,” Bach said.
“This is the transformation of a whole region, and the Games serve as a catalyst for this kind of development.”
Bach drew a comparison with London, where the 2012 Olympics saw a vast redevelopment of some East End districts.
Russia built everything needed for the Olympics from scratch in just seven years after winning the bid over Pyongchang, South Korea, and Salzburg, Austria, in 2007.
The cost that Kozak originally gave, $51 billion, would exceed the amount reportedly spent on any Summer or Winter Games.