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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Organizers Say Sochi Construction on Schedule

COPENHAGEN — Construction for the 2014 Sochi Olympics is "well on schedule" and the Black Sea resort will be ready to host skiing competitions by the end of next year, organizers said Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak presented a report to International Olympic Committee on the progress of the project, saying that "within one year we'll be able to host the very first Alpine competition, and there'll be a ski center in place to do that."

"Construction is well on schedule," Kozak said. "We need to be a step ahead."

Russia is building nearly all the venues from scratch, while also creating a complex infrastructure network that will include more than 70 kilometers (44 miles) of new roads in the rugged Caucasus mountains, and a light rail line connecting the snow-sports venues with the ice sports arenas being built on the Black Sea coast. Sixteen new hotels will also be built, while 10 existing ones will be remodeled.

Construction on some venues, like the skating and curling centers, have already started, while the Alpine slopes have all been designed and prepared. Dmitry Chernyshenko, the president of the Sochi organizing committee, said construction on all other venues will start in the first quarter of next year.

"We're following our road map very much on time with our agenda," Chernyshenko said.

The first official test event in Sochi will be the European Cup in Alpine skiing in February 2011. More than 70 test events in different sports will be held in 2012 and 2013, he said.

Chernyshenko also stressed that the project remains "financially secured," with the total budget for hosting the games unchanged at $6.6 billion. The operating budget for the actual games remains at $1.8 billion he said.

"We're not going to decrease or increase it drastically," he said. "It's going to stay about the same."

Sochi has secured sponsorship deals worth a total of $750 million so far from so-called "tier one" sponsors — whose deals are worth more than $100 million each. Chernyshenko said organizers hope to sign four more tier one deals and will start looking for tier two sponsors after next year's Vancouver Games.

Last month, Chernyshenko had to rebuff Russian media reports that the cost of the games had more than tripled to nearly three times its original estimate to more than 1 trillion rubles ($33.5 billion).

He reiterated Wednesday that most of that money is being used to redevelop the entire Krasnodar region and that those costs are unrelated to the Olympic budget.

"These figures have become bigger because the scale of the development has become bigger," he said.

IOC member Jean-Claude Killy, who is monitoring the Sochi progress for the Olympic body, said he has seen rapid improvements on the ground every time he has visited the resort over the last year and that "there's a solid foundation for the project."

However, he stressed that there is little room for slipups.

"The road to the games in Sochi is still long and paved with many challenges," Killy said. "There's a tremendous amount of work to be done, and the construction schedule is very, very tight. No delay is permitted."