Interview with Svetlana Zhurova

Svetlana Zhurova, Sochi 2014 Ambassador, joined RT shortly after returning from Guatemala, to share her feeling about winning the right to host 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Russia Today: Svetlana, you must be still suffering from jet lag now?

Svetlana Zhurova: After such a big victory, I think it’s really nothing. Everybody on the plane was awake, discussing about what happened, what feelings they have, these kind of things.

RT: So you were there, you worked so much and saw it pay off. What was it like in Guatemala that moment when Sochi’s victory was announced?

S.Z.: It was unbelievable. When the envelope was opened and I saw it was the not-so-many letters in the word “Sochi” – compared the names of the other city… Well, all night I had this dream about the note and the envelope, I saw the note read “Pyeongchang” and in another nightmare it read “Salzburg”. But it turned out another way. And when I spoke to IOC members during the presentation, I told them “we’ll make athletes’ dream come true, it’s possible. All athletes will be happy at our Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.” Now it's like it has almost happened already. It’s just six and a half years of work for all our country, but now our country is happy.

RT: What will the bid team do in the first place now? What are your plans?

S.Z.: The bid team will be transformed into an organising committee. IOC rules do not ask to keep members, but I think those people who were working in the bid team will now form the organising committee, because IOC asked us to start working on the games as fast as possible. Presenting a bid and being in the organising committee are two completely different things. In late August or early September they will come here and advise us what we should do first. It will be similar to Switzerland, I think, for our new organising committee. We’ll have plenty of things to do, because IOC rules and requirements change with each Olympic Games, they improve along with the whole Olympic Movement. And it will be for sure true for Sochi as well.

RT: Back in Guatemala, did you manage to have a word with IOC members after the announcement? Were they surprised or did they expect Sochi to win?

S.Z.: They were excited about our presentation and about our president, who was the captain of our team. I’m sure many IOC members had changed their mind about Russia when they saw our team and our so nice captain. And afterwards those IOC members who were with us and gave us their votes were very happy for us. We’re friends with many ex-Soviet countries, and in a way our victory was a victory for them too.

And it was really exciting when after the voting IOC members were looking us in the eye. Some of them already knew the results, but they in no way showed us what the answer to our unspoken question was. We were like begging – please, tell us, what is in the envelope? But they were so firm, nobody gave us any hint. The last several minutes, when we were holding our hands jumping on our seats – they were very remarkable.

RT: Are you planning to participate in the 2014 Olympics now?

S.Z.: No, I will be too old for that. But maybe I will be in the organising committee at that time. It was very interesting what we did and I’m very happy to have been with all athletes in our team. We did so many things. And the most important thing is that IOC members believed in us. Our athletes, like Evgeny Plushenko, or Mikhail Terentiev, or myself, coming from different sports – we told the IOC what we would like our Olympic village and new Olympic venues to be. We contributed our experience to our bid. Russia has more then 600 Olympic champions, and for sure we have the knowledge about how to hold very nice Olympic Games in Russia.

Also watch Svetlana Zhurova in RT's Spotlight feature.