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IOC Cites 'Challenges' In Russia's Bid

The leader of the IOC evaluation team assessing Russia's bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics said Friday the necessary massive construction poses a significant challenge.

Sochi, a resort city wedged between the Black Sea and the snowcapped Caucasus Mountains, would need to build almost all the needed facilities if it wins the right to host the games.

Sochi is competing against Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea _ two cities with a more developed infrastructure. The International Olympic Committee will select the host city on July 4.

"There are so many venues and facilities to be built in the future," Chiharu Igaya said at a news conference. "You've got only seven years to go. To coordinate all of these works may be a challenge."

None of the proposed ice sports facilities and athlete accommodations are built. Neither are the improved highways and light-rail system proposed to connect the mountain snow sports venues with the ice sports and main Olympic village along the seacoast some 30 miles away.

In the mountains, a few ski slopes and lifts are in operation. Many more would have to be built along with accommodations.

Sochi bid's promoters have portrayed the dearth of existing facilities as a potential strong point, pointing out that holding the games would leave the area with a wide array of new, modern venues.

When asked about the apparent strong points, Igaya cited only Russia's long tradition of excellence in winter sports and strong political support. President Vladimir Putin skied one of the potential Olympic slopes this week and held a news conference.

The IOC team visited Pyeongchang last week and will travel to Salzburg next month. The reports on each bid are to be made public June 4, a month ahead of the vote at an IOC session in Guatemala.