2014 Winter Olympics most expensive ever at $51B - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

2014 Winter Olympics most expensive ever at $51B

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SOCHI, RUSSIA -

One year ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the president of the International Olympic Committee defended the rising cost of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Jacques Rogge said Russian organizers invested heavily in long-term infrastructure that would benefit future generations of people in Sochi.

The current overall price tag for the games is $51 billion, making it the most expensive Olympics in history. That's more than four times as much as Russia estimated when it was awarded the Olympics in 2007.

"Well, you have to put it into proportion. The Games are themselves; the organization of the Games is not going to cost a lot of money. But the government has, you know, wished to develop the whole area. You cannot just take the cost of the train and the tunnels and the road into the cost of the Games because this tunnel and the train and the road are not meant for two weeks of competition, they are meant for generations to last," said Rogge.

At least half of the money for the Sochi Olympics is reportedly coming from the state. Most of the rest has been put forward by state-controlled companies and Russian tycoons.

"I think that the organizers have taken all the precautions to cope with the weather. The weather in the mountains is always unpredictable. there can be too much snow or too little snow, we have seen it in previous Games. But, you know, if there is such a circumstance, then the organizers will react with plan B," Rogge added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned officials and private investors against hiking construction costs for the Games. Putin toured some of the Olympic venues on Wednesday.

Russian news agencies quoted Putin as telling investors and officials "the most important thing is that nothing gets stolen and that there'd be no unjustified hikes in spending."

Russian officials have dismissed allegations of corruption linked to the preparations for the games.

Migrant workers

Tens of thousands of migrant workers from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are a key element in Russia's intense drive to build facilities for the 2014 Sochi Games. The event is viewed as the country's biggest construction project and a matter of national pride - for President Vladimir Putin, in particular.

But many migrants, whose pay typically provides for their entire families back home, complain that Russian contractors are cheating them and withholding their wages. Most of the foreign laborers speak poor Russian and many are afraid to assert their rights.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday released a report drawing a vivid picture of the routine abuse faced by Sochi migrant workers: underpayment, withheld wages and the absence of employment contracts. The report came out a day before Putin and Olympic officials marked the one-year countdown to the games with a spectacular ice show.

Lindsey Vonn crash

Olympic medalist hopeful Lindsey Vonn is recovering after a horrific accident during a race in Austria Tuesday. All eyes are on the American Alpine skier to see if she'll be able to heal in time for Sochi.

Vonn was halfway down and gaining speed when she made a jump and turned. Then something went wrong. She crashed and tumbled out of control and let out harrowing cries. Slow motion reveals how her right leg splayed, her knee twisted, ligaments torn and a bone fracture. She was taken by helicopter to a local hospital.

Vonn is the most successful American skier in history, winning a gold and bronze in Vancouver. She's also a four-time World Cup champ. A win or nothing competitor, she has been injured in every championship event she's participated in since 2007, but she will not compete again this season.

Vonn will need surgery and at least six months of recovery.

Olympics resources

Sochi Organizing Committee

NBC

IOC

USOC

 

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