Russian President Vladimir Putin and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach have arrived in Sochi ahead of the Winter Games (February 7-23).
Standing alongside Putin, Bach said: “You have set the stage for the best winter athletes of the world. You have delivered on all the pledges you and your team made seven years ago to the International Olympic Committee.”
Putin emphasised the extent to which the Games have transformed the host city, saying “[They] have not only changed the appearance of the city, making it more beautiful and comfortable – but have also had an effect on its socioeconomic, cultural and environmental development.”
In an apparent reference to world leaders who publicly refused to attend the first Winter Games in Russia, Bach said: “In the extreme, we had to see a few politicians whose contribution to the fight for a good cause consisted of publicly declining invitations they had not even received.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande are among several leaders who announced that they would not attend the Sochi Games without providing reasons.