Global crisis adds to headaches for Sochi 2014 Olympics organisers

Preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are weathering the reallocation of budget monies to support the event, plus financial problems for key backers.

What was seen as a national achievement for Russia in Guatemala two years ago, is losing some of its lustre. The global financial crisis is threatening preparations for the 2014 winter Olympic Games, forcing the government to revise its spending. The budget of Olympstroy, the state company overseeing construction work on the Sochi games, will be cut by two-thirds this year according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

“The government is trying to reallocate money in order to support main sectors of the economy. So $1.4 billion of budget money this year won’t be transferred to the Olympstroy Corporation. but we have money left over from the previous years to fulfill its projects in 2009.”

In Guatemala, with the newly won status of host of the 2014 Olympics, Russia got $13 billion worth of investment obligations. The majority was supposed to come from private sources. Now, Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee says it will be happy to get just half of the money from non-state investors.

“So far among the Olympic construction program it’s around half by half – so half is private investment and the rest is public money. We are now creating a safe deposit in case of some problem with the financing from the private investors. We will guarantee that we deliver every cent in full.”

Some of Russia's biggest corporations have committed to various Olympic projects. But most of these companies have been badly hit by the crisis, including Oleg Deripaska's investment vehicle Basic Element. 20 Olympic projects described as “commercially lucrative” still don’t have investors.

Next Thursday, Russia will present its new plan for post-Olympic usage of the facilities to foreign investors in Cannes. The organizers of the Sochi Games will need a gold-medal performance in order to win their approval.