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Russians Thrilled as IOC Awards Sochi 2014 Winter Games


The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, has awarded the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to the Russian resort town of Sochi. The choice sparked unbridled joy among Russians, who see the decision as confirmation of their country's growing prestige. VOA's Moscow correspondent Peter Fedynsky has this report.

"The 22nd Olympic Games are awarded to the city of Sochi."

This announcement from Guatemala City by IOC President Jacques Rogge prompted children in Sochi to jump for joy, and, as one reporter in the city put it, to elicit the emotions of children in grownups.

Even Russians who do no follow or care about sports recognize the significance of the result. A Muscovite who gave his name as Nikolai is one of them.

Nikolai says the games will help develop Russia and her infrastructure. It will, as he puts is, finally help clean up Sochi, and accordingly, it is also prestigious for our country.

President Vladimir Putin put his own prestige on the line, traveling to Guatemala, to personally lobby the Russian case. He spoke not only in his own language, but also in French and English, which few people have ever heard him do.

"Winter sports are very popular in Russia," he said. "Our athletes have scored many victories and have made major contributions to the Olympic movement. But we have not yet had the honor to celebrate the Winter Olympics. Our national pledge to you is that the choice of Sochi is the best choice."

The Associated Press quotes IOC members and former Olympic gold medalists - French skier Jean Claude Killy and Ukrainian pole-vaulter Serhiy Bubka, as saying Mr. Putin's presentation made a good impression on the committee.

Sochi beat out Pyeongchang, South Korea by a mere four votes, 51-47. A bid by the Austrian city of Salzburg failed in the previous round.

President Putin virtually guarantees snow for the 2014 Winter Games, saying it is an area with huge amounts of natural snow at just the right time. His government is also promising a blizzard of money, $12 billion, to prepare Sochi for the games.

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