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One year countdown to Sochi Winter Olympic Games

Updated: 2013-02-08 15:26
( Xinhua)

MOSCOW - With countdown timers unveiled Thursday in eight major cities, Russia officially entered "the final stage" of preparation work for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

One year countdown to Sochi Winter Olympic Games

Fireworks explode near the Bolshoi Ice Dome following a ceremony to launch a countdown clock for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Feb 7, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

Festivities were held in Moscow and seven other cities, namely St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Pyatigorsk and Khabarovsk as the timers started at 11: 00 am local time from the position of 364 days 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

Some 1,000 people, mostly young, gathered in the Manezh Square in downtown Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin announced his win back to the Kremlin last year, waving flags of Russia, Moscow and sport organizations.

"We live according to the common Olympic time, we live with the single wish to win," Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said at the ceremony, adding that thousands of Moscow citizens were ready to volunteer in Sochi.

Putin, who visited on Wednesday some venues of the Games to inspect the construction process, took part in the countdown ceremony in Sochi.

After meeting with a group of officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), He told a conference Thursday that Russia ought to "redouble efforts" on the preparation work.

Putin specially mentioned Jean-Claude Killy, who oversees the Sochi Games on behalf of the IOC, that the official "reminded us once again that the final stage is the most important one."

"One can pass the entire trail safely but bungle the final bit, " said Putin.

One year countdown to Sochi Winter Olympic Games

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge launch a countdown clock for the 2014 Winter Olympics during a ceremony in the Bolshoi Ice Dome in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Feb 7, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

On the same day, Akhmet Bilalov, vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee, was ousted over disruption of the construction works on the venues.

The ski-jumping complex has been dragged out for two years, and the cost of it has climbed to eight billion rubles ($250 million) instead of initially allocated 1.2 billion ($37.5 million).

Putin noted, however, that "all the problems so far are solvable, even where we are behind schedule a little. We should push hard."

Also on Thursday, the tickets sales for the Olympics events were opened. The prices of 42 percent of all the tickets, according to the steering committee head Dmitry Chernyshenko, are under $100.

"The cheapest ticket for any sport competition will be sold for 1,500 rubles (about 50 dollars)," Chernyshenko told reporters in Sochi, adding the prices have been calculated on the basis of average prices for the similar sporting events and were confirmed by the IOC.

The cheapest price for the opening ceremony is an equivalent of $200 and of $150 for the closing ceremony, according to the official ticketing website.

One year may be long enough for a fan, but considerably short for the athletes. "We are looking forward to the Olympic Games that live right up to the motto of 'hot. cool. yours'," a college student at the Moscow State University told Xinhua.

The Winter Olympics, held for the first time in Russia, are to take place from Feb 7 to 23, 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

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