IOC president: 'It's time it finally starts'

2014-02-07 18:36
President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Andrej Isakovic, AP-Pool)

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Andrej Isakovic, AP-Pool)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sochi - The sun's out. The athletes are ready. Let's get this show started.

That was the message Friday from IOC President Thomas Bach, who was eager to attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics and put aside the concerns over security and gay rights that have dogged the build-up to the games.

"From what I hear, we can expect a spectacular show," he said. "Maybe I will have goose bumps all night long."

Bach, presiding over an Olympics for the first time since his election as IOC president in September, said the world will now turn its focus to the spectacle of the games and the performances of the athletes.

"It's time it finally starts," he said. "The games are getting kicked off. Everything has been prepared. The athletes are really longing for the moment to start. They want to see the Olympic flame over the Olympic stadium and they want their competition to begin."

And, what's more, the weather is co-operating.

"The sun is shining on the games and on the athletes," Bach said.

He spoke at a news conference after the close of a three-day IOC session, which reviewed the preparations for Sochi as well as debating ideas for future changes in IOC operations.

Bach and his inner circle held their first daily co-ordination commission meeting on Friday with Sochi organizers to review the running of the games. Among other things, organizers have been scrambling to resolve issues with hotels that are not ready.

"Everything is going pretty smoothly," Bach told the delegates. "As always in the first days of the games, there is a small hiccup here or there, but nothing really substantial so far. We can look to tonight full of anticipation and excitement and hope that we will have a great opening ceremony for a great Olympic Games."

Massive security

Russia has mounted a massive security operation to guard the games, deploying tens of thousands of police and military personnel, as well as naval ships, drone aircraft and anti-missile batteries.

The games come amid threats of attacks by Islamic insurgents from the North Caucasus. A pair of suicide bombings in Volgograd in late December killed 34 people.

Asked about Sochi being the first Olympics facing a direct threat, Bach laughed out loud.

"I'm really sorry but you [cannot forget] how many threats there were on each of the Olympic Games before," he said. "We had threats on Sydney, we had threats on Athens. Maybe you remember the situation in Salt Lake City. There were many so you cannot single out these games in this way."

Bach recalled the tight security he experienced as an athlete at the 1976 Montreal Games, four years after the attack by Palestinian gunmen that left 11 Israeli athletes and coaches dead. Bach won a gold medal in fencing for West Germany in Montreal.

"There, security was much more obvious and closer to you than it is here now," he said. "If you speak with the athletes in the Olympic Village, they all feel very comfortable. I'm absolutely sure this Olympic atmosphere will spill over form the Olympic Village to the audience and the games."

The Sochi Games have been also surrounded by an international outcry against the Russian law banning gay "propaganda" among minors. Bach reiterated that Russia would apply the Olympic Charter, which prohibits discrimination of any kind.

Bach said he had spoken with a number of "demonstrations" at the games. He repeated that athletes are free to speak on political issues at news conferences, but are not allowed to make any political statements or gestures on the medal stand or at Olympic venues.

"I can tell you that the athletes I spoke to, they appreciate this very much," he said.

Read more on:    ioc  |  sochi olympics  |  thomas bach  |  russia

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.