IOC gives cautious thumbs up on Sochi 2014

Lausanne: The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday gave a cautious thumbs up to progress on construction for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi so far, with 40 percent of building work completed.

But executive director Gilbert Felli revealed that the IOC had obtained an "escape" clause on the resort`s deal to host Russia`s first Formula One Grand Prix from 2014.

It would allow the Olympic body to postpone the race until 2015 if it felt the work hampered preparations for the Winter Games.

"We are happy with where we are today," said IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said.

"It`s a difficult project but we can see today that 40 percent of the construction is finished and at the end of the 2011 70 percent of construction will be finished," Felli added.

He was speaking after the IOC`s executive board reviewed progress on Russia`s first winter games during a meeting in Lausanne.

A coordination commission visit in November had been able to verify that construction deadlines would be kept and allay fears over completion of a tunnel crucial for transport links from the seaside resort up to the mountains.

Felli also underlined that the IOC was keeping an eye on how Sochi would manage its first ski-ing competitions next month, men`s and women`s European Cup races.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Formula One chiefs signed the agreement to host a Grand Prix from 2014 in the Black Sea resort last October.

Felli said the IOC had no qualms with the motor racing deal but had insisted on the escape clause.

"We didn`t want to have the facility built for the Grand Prix to put contruction for the Games at risk," he explained.

"If the IOC decides that it is not feasible, at one point we could stop and postpone it to 2015."

Bureau Report

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