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SOCHI, February 06, 23:30 /ITAR-TASS/. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Thursday he was really impressed with the changes that had taken place in the city of Sochi over the several years of preparations for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games opening Friday. He also pointed out Russian hospitality.
President Putin and the entire Russia people gave a warm welcome to the Olympians and displayed the marvelous tradition of Russian hospitality, Bach said at a reception, which he gave in his own name Thursday.
He said that Putin had always given priority attention to the Games as of the moment he had led the country’s delegation to the presentation of the Russian Olympic bid and up to the very start of the competitions.
Members of the International Olympic Committee were highly impressed with the transformation that had taken place in the entire region and they were looking forward to splendid Olympic Games in Sochi.
Bach also said he was glad to see at the reception the UN Secretary General, the Presidents of China, Greece, Armenia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Tajikistan, the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Lebanon, and Morocco, the former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and the former German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the great Russian athletes Larissa Latynina and Vladislav Tretyak, operatic prima donna Anna Netrebko, the violinist and athlete Vanessa May, and the first woman cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.
He said the objective of the festive dinner was to show that the International Olympic Committee was seeking to establish contacts with society on the whole and was doing its best to establish an open dialogue with the world of politics, business, media, science, and culture in a bid to shape the spirit and values of Olympism with them.
Thomas Bach indicated that athletes had gathered on the Olympic village at the very same time. They were competitors but they were having their dinner at the same table and spending their free time in one another’s company with joy.
He proposed everyone attending the gala party to share this spirit of Olympism with one another.