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Frosty Reception for St. Petersburg’s Olympic Bid Plans

20:25 28.10.2013 (Last updated 14:05 31.10.2013)

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  • Olympic torch relay in St. Petersburg

  © RIA Novosti. Alexei Danichev

ST. PETERSBURG, October 28 (R-Sport) - Russia’s second city of St. Petersburg is not ready to bid for the Olympic Games and should concentrate on the events it is already set to host, local analysts said Tuesday.

Even before Russia hosts its first Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, talk has already turned to a possible St. Petersburg bid for the 2024 Summer Games. As the Sochi torch relay visited St. Petersburg on Sunday, the idea was pushed by mayor Georgy Poltavchenko, who said his city could be an Olympic host “in the very near future.”

He added to R-Sport that city officials "will be working on the issue so that St. Petersburg can submit a bit," but did not confirm it would be for 2024, the next available date.

It is wishful thinking to plan a St. Petersburg Olympic bid before the city hosts World Cup football in 2018, suggested Kirill Nabutov, who hails from the city and commentated on the opening ceremonies of the last two Olympics for Russian TV.

“On the one hand, why shouldn’t a big city with facilities and resources bid for the Olympic Games? But it’s another question whether there’s a great chance of getting them,” he told RIA Novosti. “A lot will depend on how Sochi goes, and the 2018 championships.”

He added that the city’s top priority should be completing the stadium for its World Cup games, which is still just 45 percent finished despite being under construction since 2007, according to a statement Monday from the company in charge. Any more delays to the stadium run the risk of turning St. Petersburg into “the laughing stock of the world,” Nabutov added.

Waiting is the best strategy, agreed Boris Vishnevsky, a member of the city’s parliament for the opposition Yabloko party.

“With the budget deficit we have at the moment, even if the federal center helped, we wouldn’t be able to manage it as required,” he said. “In the future it’s possible, but not now.”

Saint Petersburg bid for the 2004 Summer Olympics, but was eliminated from the running early on. The only Russian city to host the Games was Moscow in 1980, when St. Petersburg held part of the football competition.

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Games, with Tokyo next up in 2020. Bidding for 2024 will open in 2015.

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