Omnipresent Putin keeps IOC 'very happy'

SOCHI, Russia Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:03pm IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Sports Minister Vitali Mutko (L) watch the cross country skiing men's relay during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center near Krasnaya Polyana February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Sports Minister Vitali Mutko (L) watch the cross country skiing men's relay during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center near Krasnaya Polyana February 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Polluted waters of China

Polluted waters of China

Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers, and factory wastewater have degraded China's water supplies to the extent that half the nation's rivers and lakes are severely polluted.  Slideshow 

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be everywhere at the Sochi Olympics these days, whether it is the competition venues, team headquarters or even posing for pictures with sports fans and volunteers.

The leader's presence at Russia's first Winter Olympics was always going to be top news given the country's human rights record, its frosty ties with the United States and the controversial anti-gay propaganda law.

And with his official plane parked on a runway just a stone's throw from the venues and visible from the nearby streets, Putin is relishing the spotlight.

Put has attended ice hockey, biathlon and figure skating events and as far as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is concerned, his frequent appearances are doing the Games only good.

"He is clearly a big sports fan which adds to that (presence)," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters on Monday. "It is good to have the support of the head of state of the country and we are very happy for his support."

Ever since Sochi was surprisingly awarded the Olympics in 2007 following a powerful address by Putin himself to IOC members at their session in Guatemala, the Games at the Black Sea resort have been viewed with suspicion.

Organisers had to build every venue from scratch and the announcement that total investment would exceed $50 billion triggered further negative headlines.

Putin had personally overseen preparations, publicly sacked top officials and wooed the IOC during its inspection visits over the years.

For him the Games were more important as a political and diplomatic tool it seemed than a purely sporting event.

Adams said he could only compare his presence in Sochi anecdotally with the London 2012 Games where both Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron put in appearances.

These were, however, far more infrequent than the Russian leader's.

So were Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and while Silvio Berlusconi, at the time Italian Prime Minister, was hardly to be seen at the 2006 Turin winter Games.

"Putin is at the top. The Sochi Games are his Games," a senior Russian sports official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "He is in complete control."

(Editing by Mitch Phillips)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Sports

SPORTS SHOWCASE

Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games

India at the 2014 Glasgow Games.  Full Article 

Off-field Clash

Off-field Clash

ICC to hear appeal by Ravindra Jadeja .  Full Article 

Overseas Recruit

Overseas Recruit

Trezeguet signs up for Indian Super League.  Full Article 

Pumped Up

Pumped Up

British Open champion McIlroy not one to rest on his laurels.  Full Article 

Kidnap & Ransom

Kidnap & Ransom

Carlos Tevez's father kidnapped, released after ransom paid.  Full Article 

Woods Hopeful

Woods Hopeful

PGA Tour commissioner and Woods hope for big 2014 finish.  Full Article 

Coach Unimpressed

Coach Unimpressed

No backhanded compliments for Federer from Edberg.  Full Article 

Scolari Returns

Scolari Returns

Scolari makes quick return to coaching at old club Gremio.  Full Article 

Bribery Trial

Bribery Trial

Ecclestone seeks to settle German bribery case.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage