Georgia asks for 2014 Sochi Games to be moved over security concerns

11:21, 20 November 2008
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Russia and Georgia...

Georgia has asked the International Olympic Committee to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, citing security reasons, according to The Canadian Press.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau confirmed in an e-mail Wednesday that the IOC had received a letter from the Georgian national Olympic committee seeking relocation of the Games.

She said she had no other immediate details or comment.

"It (Sochi) is a very dangerous place," Ramaz Goglidze, first vice-president of the Georgian committee, was quoted as saying on the Around the Rings website.

He and Giya Natsvlishvili, newly elected president of the Georgian committee, are scheduled to attend the general assembly of the European Olympic committees in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday and Saturday. They could raise the Sochi issue there.

"We are not boycotting Sochi Olympic Games. We ask IOC to shift Olympic Games to safer place," Natsvlishvili was quoted as saying on an Azerbaijani website.

Russia and Georgia fought a war in August. More than 160,000 people fled fighting that broke out Aug. 7 when Georgian forces launched an attack to regain control of South Ossetia. Russian forces repelled the attack, drove deep into Georgia, and stayed there for weeks.

Russia still has thousands of troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and has recognized both as independent nations.

Sochi, a Black Sea resort, was awarded the Olympics last year, defeating bids from Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeonchang, South Korea. Sochi organizers have to build most of the venues from scratch.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi organizing committee, told The Associated Press last week that preparations remained on track despite the global economic downturn.

"This is really project No. 1 in the country," he said.

Salzburg, meanwhile, has offered to step in to host the Games if Sochi is incapable of doing so.

"If the IOC needs us and also pays us a fair share of those very good Olympic Game revenues, I`m in," Salzburg Governor Gabi Burgstaller said in an interview Wednesday with the Austrian newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt.

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