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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More Humliating Sports Failure for Putin's Russia

Once again, a highly-ranked Russian lost to a lower-ranked non-Russian at an advanced level of a major tournament, Svetlana Kuznetsova going down to Serbian Anna Ivanovic at the French Open, getting blown off the court 1-6 in the decisive third set. Bad news for Maria Sharapova; now she'll have to play a non-Russian in the semis. As if that were not bad enough, The Moscow Times reports on more sports-related humilation for Russia:

A month before the IOC vote, the South Korean city of Pyeongchang received the best overall review Monday in a report assessing the three bids for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang, which finished second to Vancouver in the race for the 2010 Games, got the most favorable ratings in a technical report by the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission. Sochi and Salzburg, Austria, are the other candidates.

The report could play an important role in swaying undecided members when the full IOC general assembly selects the 2014 host city by secret ballot on July 4 in Guatemala City. The 87-page report, based on visits to the three bid cities this winter by a panel of experts, assessed the candidates on a number of key issues, including sports venues, security, financing, accommodation, transportation as well as government and public support.

While the IOC did not rank the cities, the report identified strengths and weaknesses that could be used to differentiate them in overall terms. The report listed no significant weaknesses in the bid from Pyeongchang, which focuses on expanding winter sports in Asia and fostering peace on the Korean peninsula.

The IOC warned, however, that Sochi's major infrastructure plans would need to be "tightly monitored," and cited Salzburg for lacking detail in its bid documents, offering some hotel rooms below IOC standards and underestimating security costs.

Pyeongchang also came out on top -- and Salzburg last -- in the IOC's public opinion survey. The Korean city had 91 percent who support the bid, compared with 79 percent in Sochi and 42 percent in Salzburg.

The report termed the sports venue concepts of Salzburg and Pyeongchang as "excellent" and Sochi's as "very good."

Salzburg's bid is aided by the fact that much of the infrastructure is already in place. Sochi, which is seeking to bring the winter games to Russia for the first time, must build most of its venues from scratch. The IOC report said completing infrastructure projects linking the seacoast to the mountain venues "is critical to the games and would require robust construction methods. Construction would have to be tightly monitored in order to ensure timely delivery for the games, including test events," it said. LR: In other words, who in his right mind can possibly trust the Russians to deliver even on their third-rate plans?

Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi's bid chief, called the IOC report "objective," in an e-mailed statement, and acknowledged the need to take into account the IOC's assessment of the bid's shortcomings. "Ecology and transportation. We understand it is necessary to work these issues through and are sure they will be successfully addressed," he said.

Of course, it must be admitted that in all liklihood the Russians don't actually want the games. In fact, Putin probably wants to be rejected just so he can blame evil foreigners. The last thing in the world he would want is to have his dictatorship under a microscope and thousands of creepy democracy-loving foreigners crawling all over his favorite retreat.

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