Thursday, February 7, 2013

One Year to Go to Sochi 2014

Today, Russia celebrated a landmark date: just one year to go before the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. On that morning, the All-Russian countdown in days, hours, minutes and seconds to the start of the Olympics began. For the first time in the history of the Games, at exactly 11:00 am local time across Russia, eight OMEGA countdown clocks to the Olympic Games in 2014 were simultaneously unveiled. Representatives of regional and city authorities, famous athletes, culture and art personalities, as well as representatives of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee took part in the countdown clock unveiling ceremonies. The countdown clocks to the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi were ceremoniously unveiled in the administrative centers of eight Russian federal districts: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Pyatigorsk and Khabarovsk.
In the evening, the city of Sochi was the center of the celebrations: at the Olympic "Bolshoy" Ice Dome, Jacques Rogge, the Head of the IOC, presented an official invitation to the Games to representatives of the National Olympic Committees, which culminated in a colorful ice show with a performance by Sochi 2014 ambassador Ilya Averbukh and Russian figure skating stars.
The largest celebrations marking one year to go before the Games were held at Manezhnaya Square in Moscow. In the morning while guests were gathering, video clips illustrating the main stages of preparation for the Games in Sochi were broadcast on big screens. Everyone had the opportunity to write their best wishes for the Russian Olympic team on an Olympian Wish Wall set up in the center of the square, edged in the style of the Olympic patchwork quilt. During the celebration, guests had the opportunity to take pictures next to the countdown clock, mascots and the Sochi 2014 torch while they waited for the concert and entertainment program featuring music stars, as well as meet Olympians fr om Moscow and ask their idols questions. At the end of the event, all the guests took part in a "Muscovites' Olympic dance" flash mob.
In St. Petersburg, an hour before the start of the countdown clock ceremony, there were melodies and songs about sports and the Olympics from a stage along with a quick quiz for the guests on the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 365 balloons in the colors of the Olympic rings were released into the sky, while the Sochi 2014 anthem played - "The Games that we all deserve together with you".
During the clock launch ceremony in Nizhny Novgorod, a brass band played and a field kitchen served food, while a ski relay was organized for pupils of children's sport schools. Guests took part in a tug-of-war competition, and they could watch snowboarder demonstrations. The countdown clock start was followed by a firework display.
In the evening, the celebrations moved to Sochi. At the Olympic "Bolshoy" Ice Dome a celebratory event dedicated to one year to go before the Games took place, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov, President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy, IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Games Gilbert Felli, the heads of National Olympic Committees and the President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko took part. During the ceremony, Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, extended an official invitation to the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014 in Sochi to NOC representatives of Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Russia.
The evening continued with a colorful ice show, staged by the Sochi 2014 ambassador and famous skater Ilya Averbukh with Russian figure skating stars Irina Slutskaya, Tatyana Navka, Roman Kostomarov, Alexei Yagudin, Tatyana Totmyanina and Maxim Marinin. A total of about 300 artists took part in the show. An orchestra played at the celebration, directed by Sochi 2014 ambassador maestro Yuri Bashmet. The unique ice show told the audience about the main stages of preparation for the Games in Sochi in 2014 after winning the bid in Guatemala City in 2007. The celebration ended with spectacular bright fireworks.
Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko noted: "Today is a milestone day for us. In just one year’s time we will invite the whole world to Sochi and we are eager to help every guest enjoy the best winter Games in the history. I believe we are pretty much wh ere we should be at this point in time. All sports venues in the Mountain and Coastal Clusters are almost ready, the volunteer selection process for the Sochi Games is approaching the finish line, and Sochi has already become the countrywide model for a barrier-free environment. But now is the time for us to really concentrate and to do our best during this final stage before the Games. We need to make sure that every single aspect of our preparations is aligned as we get ready for this historic event. That is why the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee has already moved into full "Olympic mode" by starting large-scale operational testing of the sports venues. We recognize that it will be vital ensure that we have perfected all the services that we will deliver for the Games".
Sochi was elected as the host city for the XXII Olympic Winter Games at the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City on 4 July 2007. Sochi won the vote against the cities of Salzburg (Austria) and PyeongChang (Republic of Korea) in the second round of voting. The Russian city edged out PyeongChang 51 votes to 47, with Salzburg having been eliminated in round one. The Sochi 2014 Games will play host to the seven Olympic Winter sports (Skiing, Skating, Luge, Biathlon, Ice Hockey, Curling, and Bobsleigh) currently on the Olympic programme and will run from 7 to 23 February 2014.

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