2014 Winter Olympic bid
2014 Winter Olympic bid2014 Winter Olympic bid: Interview On June 22, it will be known whether Sofia will advance in its bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. In Lausanne, Switzerland, the International Olympic Committee will announce which of the candidate cities will go through to the next round of selection. The Sofia Echo interviewed the vice-president of the Bulgarian applicant committee, Svetla Otzetova. Q: What are Sofia’s chances of winning the bid? A: It’s very difficult to talk about real chances, especially at this preliminary stage. Right now, our main goal is to get into the shortlist. Currently, we are just an applicant city, while after June 22, we may become a real candidate. Unfortunately, we do not know how many cities will be shortlisted. It could be two, three, or four, and I would not be surprised if the number reaches five. I remember that there were seven applicant cities for the most recent Summer Olympics and the final competition was among five of them. At this stage, experts will assess our capacity to host the Games. The question is not whether we are the best. It’s more about whether we correspond to world standards. The outcome on June 22 depends on these experts and not on the IOC. The experts give a report to the IOC, which the committee then makes public. This system of sifting was done for the first time for the Summer Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. In the beginning, there were 11 applicant cities, but most of them obviously had a lot of work to do in order to achieve world standards. All we have now is just plans, but afterwards we shall have to implement them by ensuring the financial support for ecological research, building sports facilities, and so on. We have the support of the Bulgarian Government, and the backing of the city authorities. After June 22, apart from putting our plans into action, we shall starting a massive promotion of Sofia 2014 abroad. At this stage, we are not allowed to do PR outside our borders. Afterwards, lobbying abroad becomes a very important issue. Q: As a former Olympic champion, you know exactly the meaning of the Olympic spirit and how important it is to become a member of the Olympic family of the cities and countries that have already hosted Games. A: As a former participant in two Olympic Games, I now have the opportunity to see the matter from another point of view. Moreover, I am an official counsellor to the Summer Olympic applicant cities. It is the second time in my career that I am involved in preparations for the Winter Games. As we all know, it is the third time that Bulgaria is a candidate, and I participated in our campaign in 1982/1984. And it’s very difficult to explain to people who come and say to us: ???We were part of the former organisation, we did things in this way and it was correct then...’ that it’s not possible to remain the same 20 years later. Everything has changed since 1982, especially in the media sphere. The new requirements are very high and it has taken a lot of work to cover the new criteria. But I have a lot of experience in advising applicants, in doing different projects, that helps me to see whole picture, to realise what is important and what is not. Q: Is the fact that this is Bulgaria’s third attempt an advantage? A: Of course, our former attempts are of great importance to us. We are using the architects from our previous bids and so we are not starting from the very beginning. Apart from Vitosha, we are also using the other ski resorts, in Bansko and Borovets, where everything is up to the most modern standards. We can show off these right now, while Vitosha is not exactly a place worth showing to foreigners. We have got a lot of criticism about this. But in Sofia there are the main activities - the media centre, the Olympic village, accommodation for the IOC, the conference halls, and so on. All the newly-built sport facilities will be used after the event itself. Our interview with Svetla Otzetova continues in the sport section of next week’s issue. Learn more about Bulgaria’s strong points ahead of the other six applicants, Sochi (Russia), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Salzburg (Austria), Pyongyang (Republic of Korea), Jaca (Spain) and Borjomi (Georgia).
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