- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Nikolsky
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Nikolsky
MOSCOW, April 25 (R-Sport) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday any concerns over corruption afflicting the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will not affect the running of the Games themselves.
Billions of rubles have been poured into Russia's first Winter Games since the International Olympic Committee awarded the country the hosting rights in 2007.
Putin, who lobbied hard to secure the Games, acknowledged there were fears that a significant portion of the federal funds allocated could disappear.
"All these critical remarks, it's all expected, and we shouldn't be offended because none of it relates directly to the construction," Putin said.
"They relate to financial institutions, and to the financial streams, to which the builders have no relation whatsoever," he said.
The country is building all the facilities needed for competition from scratch, and while all of the competition venues themselves are finished, the race to complete the associated infrastructure ahead of the February 7 opening ceremony is still very much on.
"On the whole, work is going according to schedule, on the whole, the facilities are opened on time, all the planned test events are being held," Putin said.
"I'm absolutely convinced that everything needed in preparing for the Olympics will be completed with the right level of quality and on time," he said.
Putin did not say whether any of the corruption claims were credible or being investigated.
Nor did he refer to the case of Akhmed Bilalov, the former deputy head of the Russian Olympic Committee who is under investigation for misspending government funds after Putin publicly chided him for delays in building the ski jump facility.
But Putin reiterated the need for a last push to get across the finish line that he made back in February with exactly one year to go.
"In the final straight, and our colleagues at the international Olympic Committee noted this, we must concentrate all our resources ... to prepare for the Olympics at the level needed," Putin said.
The latest cost estimates have approached $50 billion, which would make the Games the most expensive in history.