Interview with Jacques Rogge
Russia Today: Russia is successful! It was extremely close contest. Why do you think Russia wins in the end?
Jacques Rogge: It was indeed very close and we have expected that. It was as close as the last vote for the Winter Games between Vancouver and Pyeongchang with just three votes difference. It is the same close margin between London and Paris. It is true that nowadays the bids are very-very similar in quality. Why has Sochi won? I believe they were a little bit better in persuading the members that they can rely on three essential issues. One is the well-known quality of Russian sport, arguably in the top three in the world. The total commitment of the Russian government and President Putin. And thirdly the legacy this project is going to leave for the city and the region.
RT: You are the man in charge of insuring that the Olympic values are kept alive and well. To what extent do you see those in what Sochi offers?
J.R.: I think they will offer a lot of opportunities. First of all, as it has been pointed out by the Russians themselves, they are in need of infrastructure for their youth. The youth are in need for sport infrastructure, and they are building that. Secondly, there is a need for the whole region. Winter sports facilities were destroyed after the implosion of the Soviet Union – they want to re-build that. And definitely I think that the Olympic Games are a force for the good in the country and they would move the society.
RT: One might be surprised that Winter Olympics never came to Russia before. Do you think this is the time when they’re finally ready to host the event?
J.R.: The games were never organised in Russia before because there was no project. This is the first project based on winter sports… Let’s not forget that this is a huge country with very high mountains. Definitely they have all the essence to do something fantastic.
RT: Do you think this could develop sport in Russia to a whole new level?
J.R.: Oh, yes. We will see Russia become a world power in winter sport. They are already a world power in cross country, in biathlon, in ice hockey. They are a little behind in alpine skiing but they will catch up very fast and together with all their skaters they will be a very very strong country.
RT: Apart from developing sport, what do you think IOC members found in Sochi bid that made them chose the city?
J.R.; I think the underlying need for Sochi project is what they want to do with their youth and they’ve described this very good this morning. We are living in a society were in more and more countries we see growing inactivity of young people which lead to skyrocketing obesity. We have to do something about that, we have to bring young people into sport. I believe that projects like Sochi 2014 are going to help Russians bring beck their youth to sport.
RT: It was an incredibly close vote just like four years ago. It’s actually becoming a sporting event in itself, isn’t it?
J.R.: Well, yes. But in an event like this there’s only gold medal and no silver and no bronze. I must say I feel very much for Pyeongchang and Salzburg – they were very good bids, they would have been capable of staging very good games, but in sport there is only one winner.