At a ceremony today marking one year to go until the start of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge officially invited the worldâ€™s National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and their athletes to take part in the Games.
During the event, President Rogge personally delivered invitations to representatives of the NOCs from the host countries of the previous, next and future editions of the Olympic Winter Games (Canada, Russia and South Korea, respectively), in addition to the NOC of the host country of the next Summer Olympic Games (Brazil). All other invitations will be sent by post from the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The ceremony took place at the Bolshoi Ice Palace in Sochi and was attended by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy, IOC members in Russia Vitaly Smirnov, Shamil Tarpishev and Alexander Popov, and the President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko.
Accepting the invitations from President Rogge were Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut, Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Nuzman, the Chairman of the Korean Olympic Committeeâ€™s International Commission, Ji Young Kim, and Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov.
â€œA year before the start of an Olympic Games is traditionally the time we invite the athletes of the world to take part in the Games, which are a celebration of sport, peace and humanity,â€ said President Rogge. â€œThese will be the first Olympic Winter Games to be held in Russia, and the Russians are eager to welcome the world to the shores of the Black Sea and the mountains of the Caucasus. A spectacular setting with equally impressive venues await those who qualify â€“ the perfect platform on which to compete. I wish all the athletes hoping to compete here next February all the best in their preparations.â€
Sochi 2014 Organising Committee President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko said, â€œToday is a milestone day for us. In just one yearâ€™s time we will invite the whole world to Sochi and we are eager to help every guest enjoy the best winter Games in history. I believe we are pretty much where we should be at this point in time. All sports venues in the Mountain and Coastal Clusters are almost ready, and the volunteer selection process for the Sochi Games is approaching the finish line. But now is the time for us to really concentrate and to do our best during this final stage before the Games. We need to make sure that every single aspect of our preparations is aligned as we get ready for this historic event. That is why the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee has already moved into full â€˜Olympic modeâ€™ by starting large-scale operational testing of the sports venues. We recognise that it will be vital to ensure that we have perfected all the services that we will deliver for the Games.â€
The ceremony, which was covered by media from around the world, featured an ice dancing performance directed by Salt Lake 2002 silver medallist Ilya Averbukh and featured a number of Russiaâ€™s most well known figure skating stars such as Irina Slutskaya, Tatiana Navka, Roman Kostomarov, Alexej Yagudin, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin. The show brought together over 300 participants and told the story of the preparations for the Sochi 2014 Games from the moment the city was elected in 2007 to today. The celebration concluded with a spectacular firework display.
Sochi will host the XXII Olympic Winter Games from 7 to 23 February 2014.