Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 7th 2014 Contents A47
Friday, February 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
SOCHI, Russia---A record number of world
dignitaries are coming to the Sochi
Olympics, triple the amount that attended
the 2010 Vancouver Games, Russian organ-
izers said yesterday on the eve of the open-
Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi
organizing committee, told the IOC that 65
heads of state and government and inter-
national organizations are expected to attend
Russia s first Winter Olympics.
"This is a record for Winter Games, three
times the number in Vancouver," he said in
his final update to the International Olympic
Committee general assembly.
The IOC said Wednesday it was aware of
44 world leaders coming to the games.
Chernyshenko s figures could be higher
because of the inclusion of international
A number of top world leaders are skipping
the games, however. They include President
Barack Obama, French President Francois
Hollande, British Prime Minister David
Cameron and German President Joachim
The Olympics come amid Western crit-
icism of Russia s record on human rights
and its law banning gay "propaganda" among
Sochi organizers have declined to provide
the names of the leaders coming to the open-
ing ceremony or the countries they repre-
But several were present at an IOC dinner
Thursday night. Alongside Putin, they includ-
ed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the
leaders of China, Greece, Bulgaria, Lebanon,
Morocco, Armenia, Finland, Greece, Iceland,
Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Montenegro,
Serbia, Tajikistan, and the monarchs of
Monaco and Luxembourg.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who ran
in the Olympic torch relay in Sochi, labeled as "non-
sense" the talk of how many foreign leaders are coming
to the games.
"No one has ever counted," he said, as quoted by
Russian agency RIA Novosti. "They started counting
when they decided that they should spoil things for
Russia so that Russia would feel uncomfortable."
On Tuesday, IOC President Thomas Bach
denounced politicians who used the Sochi Olympics
for their own purposes "on the backs of the athletes,"
including leaders who publicly snubbed the games
without having been invited.
Meanwhile, the IOC praised Sochi organisers for
the seven-year project in preparing the game but
warned them not to rest yet.
"We have and you have all reasons to be very, very
confident but there is no reason to be complacent,"
Bach said. "Now the real work starts. We are sure it
will be a success, but we have to make it work."
Jean-Claude Killy, the French ski great who headed
the IOC coordination commission for Sochi, said
Sochi had undergone an "astounding" transformation
in the seven years since it was awarded the games.
Russia has used the games to try to develop a decay-
ing Black Sea summer resort into a year-round tourist
destination and winter sports complex. It has spent
$51 billion overall to rebuild the area, including long-
term investments in roads, railways, hotels and other
"All of the promises made in 2007 have been kept
and spectacularly so," Killy said. "It s a new city that s
going to organize these games and show itself to the
world---a city that is reflecting the new Russia."
Chernyshenko told the IOC: "Thank you for your
bravery and courage that day. We didn t let you down."
Chernyshenko said a record 2,860 athletes from
88 countries had registered for the games so far, and
offered further assurances that Russian security will
"deliver safe games."
Tens of thousands of police and military personnel
have been deployed to guard the Olympics, which
face threats of terror attacks by Islamic insurgents
from the North Caucasus region.
In a light moment, Chernyshenko claimed the birth
rate had tripled in Sochi in the years leading to the
"I don t know why," he said.
65 world leaders going to Olympics
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left,
is joined at a news conference by International
Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach
following Ban's address to the IOC's general
assembly ahead of the upcoming 2014 Winter
Olympics, yesterday, in Sochi, Russia. It was the first
time a UN secretary-general delivered a keynote
address to the IOC's general assembly. AP PHOTO
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