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IOC Pleased With Sochi Construction Progress

Officials presented a plan showing how the Olympic torch relay will pass by 90 percent of the population. Ivan Sekretarev

SOCHI — With the opening ceremony less than 500 days away, the IOC on Thursday praised the pace of Russia's preparations for the 2014 Winter Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

IOC coordination commission chairman Jean-Claude Killy hailed "huge progress in terms of Olympic venue construction."

Killy's panel wrapped up a three-day visit to Sochi to inspect construction, transportation, accommodation and other key areas.

"The venues have come a long way in a relatively short period since our last visit here," Killy said, adding that the delegation was also impressed with progress in hotel construction and transportation.

The commission visited the sliding center, ski jump facility, cross-country and biathlon venue and the coastal cluster of indoor arenas. The International Olympic Committee said most of the venues are "either nearing completion or are already in use."

Sochi will test some of this infrastructure by hosting about 20 test events this winter. Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the local organizing committee, said Sochi is now focused on delivering the test events "to ensure we're 100 percent prepared."

The Sochi organizing committee earlier this week released plans for a 65,000-kilometer Olympic torch relay, which is supposed to pass by 90 percent of the Russian population over 123 days.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who hosted the delegation in Sochi, said the games are still within the budget of 200 billion rubles, or $6.4 billion. Killy described the cost as comparable with Olympic budgets in London and Beijing.

This was the eighth visit of the IOC panel to Sochi since the games were awarded to Russia in 2007.

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