Olympics: Putin’s anger flares over Sochi cost overruns
Published: February 7, 2013 01:00PM
Updated: May 21, 2013 11:32PM
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Olympic rings for the 2014 Winter Olympics are installed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia, late Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. With the Winter Olympics a year away, IOC President Jacques Rogge praised Sochi organizers on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 and defended the $51 billion price tag. (AP Photo/Ignat Kozlov))

Sochi, Russia • A year before the 2014 Winter Olympics are to begin, President Vladimir Putin has demanded that a senior member of the Russian Olympic Committee be fired, apparently due to cost overruns in host city Sochi.

The current price tag for the Sochi Games is $51 billion, which would make them the most expensive games in the history of the Olympics — more costly even than the much-larger Summer Olympics held in London and Beijing.

The games at the Black Sea resort of Sochi are considered a matter of national pride and one of Putin’s top priorities.

Putin’s decision came after he scolded officials over a two-year delay and huge cost overruns in the construction of the Sochi ski jump facilities.

The Russian official involved, Akmet Bilalov, had a company that was building the ski jump and its adjacent facilities before selling its stake to state-owned Sberbank last year.

During his tour of Olympic venues, Putin fumed when he heard that the cost of the ski jump had soared from $40 million to $265 million and the project was behind schedule.

Most countries that host the Olympics use public funds to pay for most of the construction of the sports venues and new infrastructure like roads and trains. The Russian government, however, has gotten state-controlled companies and tycoons to foot more than half of the bill.