Interview with Fred Weir
Russia Today: Were you a supporter of the Sochi bid?
Fred Weir: Well, yes. I've been to Sochi a few times and I've had good times there. It's a stunning natural setting – you know, mountains, sea and mild climate. But beyond that I think Russia deserves this. It is a country which is coming out on the world stage, it is coming over a long period of historical development. Joining the world community and opening up, a challenge like this to get ready, to bring in all those events and all those people – I think that's just the thing for Russia and that it will have a real positive effect on Russia and the world.
RT: Sochi now has much to do by 2014. I know it's early to be thinking about it, but will it be on time?
F.W.: Well, the Russian government has made undertakings and everybody believes that. Russia is rich today. It's got the money and determination to fix the city up. Although there is a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be done there. Probably the only risk to this game is politics. If you remember the 1980 Olympics in Moscow they were kind of spoilt by politics and we have some high profile disputes between Russia and the West right now and there is potential there to cast a shadow on these games. However, it's seven years from now and we've got a hope that all that will get sorted out. And right now it looks great.
RT: Do you think the 1980 scenario can repeat?
F.W.: You know, that was a different time. There was the USSR and there was the war in Afghanistan, which caused the U.S. and some other countries to boycott the games. Right now the possible spoilers beyond these disputes like missile defence and Kosovo, there are Russian relations with Georgia and Sochi is near its borders, it's half an hour drive from Abkhazia, the Georgian break-away republic. That could present a problem.
RT: Some western as well as domestic analysts say that Sochi winning the bid is not just a victory of Russia but also a victory of President Putin personally. Did you like his English and French?
F.W.: Yes, his coming out and speaking English like that for the first time, I think, impressed everybody. I guess those were rehearsed lines but he said them really well. I think he has himself by throwing his weight behind that proposal he really made a difference.