By CBS News correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh
SOCHI, Russia -- The International Olympic Committee
sure knows how to pull the rug out.
The so-called "meteorite medals" – gold- and silver-plated awards topped with a fingernail-size chunk of space stone set like a diamond on a ring – got lots of buzz in the early days of the Sochi Winter Games. Chelyabinsk's Ministry of Tourism even featured the medals in a Russian cultural exhibition within Sochi's Olympic Park.
But on the eve of the crash anniversary - Valentine's
Day - Sochi Winter Games organizers were showing no love. Olympic Games
Executive Director Gilbert Felli told reporters the Russians can't give out the
bonus medals until after the Games are over. "There's no point to
it," he said.
The Olympic organizers' last-minute announcement came as a disappointment to Chelyabinsk officials, who say they never intended to have their meteorite medals be part of the official ceremonies, or to distract from them.
"Maybe our idea was misinterpreted [by the
IOC]," says Natalia Gritsai, head of tourism for the Chelyabinsk region
and one of the officials responsible for distributing the medals.
Gritsai says Chelyabinsk authorities will contact the national Olympic committees of Austria, Sweden, China, Russia and Poland about mailing the meteorite medals to the athletes from those countries who won gold Saturday.
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