His Excellency Mr Andrew Andreev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the State of Qatar was joined by Sochi 2014 Sports Ambassador and former world champion rhythmic gymnast Lyaysan Utyasheva at the Russian Embassy in Doha.

 

With the 15th Asian Games taking place in the Gulf state in just under two months, the Sochi Bid Committee found it appropriate to include Doha as part of its international campaign launch.

 

"We pay special attention to Qatar, and we consider Qatar as an important partner in the Gulf region, as we share common positions on many global and regional issues," Mr Andreev said at the press conference.

 

"We praise Qatar's active and constructive role in the region and becoming Asian Games host in December will be a good example of such roles.

 

"As these games will transform Qatar into a sporting hub, so to we hope that the Sochi bid will be successful, and will turn Sochi into a centre of sport and sporting facilities," he added.

 

Sochi is a resort-style city on the coast of the Black Sea and at the foot of the Caucasus mountain range in southwestern Russia, in an area which is often referred to as the Russian Riviera.

 

Along with Pyeongchang, South Korea and Salzburg, Austria, Sochi is on the IOC's shortlist to become the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

 

"The Sochi bid has support at all levels of Russian government," said Mr Andreev.

 

"The government has started to implement a Federal investment program of $12 billion constructing roads, stadiums and airports, and we hope the Sochi bid will be successful."

 

Gateway to the future

 

Lyaysan Utyasheva, Sochi 2014 Sports Ambassador, was equally excited to be in Doha to help launch the bid campaign, and also to see preparations for the upcoming 15th Asiad to be held in the Gulf city.

 

Lyaysan Utyasheva in Doha to
support the Sochi 2014 bid

"I am delighted to be here in Qatar today, on behalf of Russian Olympians and athletes to passionately and enthusiastically support Sochi's bid to bring the Winter Games to our country for the first time ever," said Utyasheva through a translator.

 

"With the 2006 Asian Games only a few months away, this is a truly exciting time to visit Qatar," she added.

 

The slogan for the Sochi 2014 bid is "Gateway to the Future", referring to Russia's aim to win the 2014 Games and create a sporting legacy not only for Sochi, but also as part of a 'Russian Renaissance' through new infrastructure and economic investment.

 

At the official launch press conference in Moscow, Leonid Tyagachev, President of the Russian Olympic Committee looked forward to Russia hosting a world sporting event after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

 

"We haven't had a chance to hold a proper Olympics as 1980 was the Soviet Union and not everyone attended.  This is our chance for the new, beautiful Russia to host its first real Olympics," Tyagachev said.

 

Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government and head of the Government Committee for Sochi 2014 supported Mr Tyagachev's remarks.

 

"Russia is a land of great Olympic traditions.  I believe the decision to hold the Winter Olympics here will be recognition of Russia's Olympic traditions and the changes in our country recently," said Mr Zhukov.

Growing public support

 

Speaking to Aljazeera from Moscow, Dmitry Chernyshenko, CEO of the Sochi 2014 Bid Committee, said that public support for the Games bid was growing, and that the "Gateway to the Future" concept would raise the profile of the bid even further in Russia.

 

The Caucasus mountain range
above Sochi in southern Russia

"Russia is a great winter sports country and we're really looking forward to bringing the Olympic Games to the land of Russia," Mr Chernyshenko said.

 

"When the Soviet Union was destroyed, we lost our facilities for training for winter sports as they remained in regions of the former Soviet Republic, so for us it's a good chance to stimulate development of winter sport, and to build state of the art, modern facilities for training at a high level, and at the grass roots as well."

 

A leading professional in advertising and sports marketing, Chernyshenko grew up in Sochi and was excited by the prospects of helping to bring the Olympics to his home city.

 

"For me it's a huge responsibility, being appointed CEO for the bid," he said.

 

"As you can you imagine, all my relatives, classmates and friends live in Sochi, and they're really looking forward and hoping that I do my best to organize everything on the way to bringing the Olympic Games to my motherland."

 

A unique, compact concept

 

The attraction of Sochi as a Winter Games venue is hard to ignore as the snow capped peaks of the Krasnaya Polyana mountain village at an elevation of over 2000 meters are just one hour from the temperate, sun-drenched beaches on the Black Sea coast.

 

'Russian Riviera': The city of Sochi
on the coast of the Black Sea

"In the coastal area, everything will be in a unique compact concept – everything will be inside one secure complex and within walking distance," Chernyshenko said.

 

"The Olympic village will be in five-star hotel accommodation, on the sandy beaches of the Black Sea, just 45 kms from the mountains and the heart of the alpine ski resort."

 

When asked about his favourite Winter Olympics sports, there was no doubt that the CEO was eager to see speed and excitement come to Sochi.

 

"Of course downhill skiing and bobsleigh," he said.

 

"Once I tried bobsleighing, it was really exciting, and we are going to build the longest and most high-speed bobsleigh track in recent history," Chernyshenko told Aljazeera.

 

The Sochi 2014 bid represents a great chance for Russia to showcase the changes it has made over the past few decades and to help drive positive economic and political developments.

 

With the Asian Games coming to the Arabian peninsula for the first time at Doha 2006, it would be no surprise to see the Winter Olympics make its debut on the Caucasus ranges of Sochi in 2014.

 

The winning host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics will be announced by the IOC in Guatemala City on July 4, 2007.