Interview with Malcolm Grey
Russia Today: You're a Canadian journalist. Montreal hosted the summer Olympics in 1976 and suffered losses of around $ US 1,2 BLN. What were the reasons for that?
Malcolm Gray: The important thing for Montreal is that they managed to pay it off, just recently. It is the same problem you have when you are developing any Olympics. You do not have much time and it always costs more than you expect – like any construction project. And in Montreal we had an Olympic stadium that was designed and built by a French architect that cost much more than they thought. It was not complete when the Games were open. Anyway, they’ve paid it off and the stadium is still there. It’s only put Montreal on the map. I don’t think it’s going to be quite a problem is Sochi. But it’s probably going to cost more. And there is only seven years before the Games start.
RT: Based on that experience, what problems are Russian officials going to face and how can they prevent that from happening in Sochi?
MG: I think they are going to succeed. Most people in the country are in favor of Russia putting on the Games. I don’t think that any body would want a failure in Sochi in 2014. So they will spend the money. They’ll bring in the people they need to build it. And it will be done.
RT: You visited Sochi in February along with the International Olympic Committee. Can you tell us more about that trip?
MG: The main reason I went, about everything else connected to the Olympic, is that I’ve been in Sochi before, but I have not been there on February. And that particular week it was cold in Moscow, and it was about six degrees above in Sochi. And they have palm trees. What better place could a Canadian or a Russian spent a cold February week. I was quite impressed by the Russian bid. And Putin’s involvement in that, particularly skiing in front of the Olympic officials without falling down – I didn’t expect him to fall down – he showed that he is a sportsman. I think that played a small but significant part, as in Guatemala where he had spoken in English and French. That showed his investment in that particular project. So that went straight from the top. And I think he has on his side just about everybody in Russia. There are some environmental concerns in Sochi. But apart from that I think it will be good for Sochi, for Russia and for the Russians.
RT: And do you think that the facilities which are going to be built for the games will get a proper usage afterwards?
MG:I hope so. Nobody can predict that. But if Sochi hadn’t got the bid, they would have still been a fair bit of development there. It would’ve been a bit sadder. But they’ve got the bid. So there is nothing stopping. There have no excuse now. They can’t say we were wrong, because they won the bid. All you have to do is look at Russia and Soviet Union Olympic past record in Winter Olympics: 283 Olympic medals and say: “Now it’s our turn”. They managed to sell it to the Olympic Committee. Now is their turn. Now all is left is to much work to be done.