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'Forget holidays', Putin tells Sochi Olympic organisers

world Updated: Nov 28, 2013 20:45 IST
Winter Olympic Games

The Russian resort of Sochi hosting the Winter Olympic Games in February is still far from perfect, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, advising organisers to forget about taking holidays.

Putin personally spearheaded Sochi's bid for the Games and has publicly berated officials for falling behind deadline in the $50-billion effort to turn the Soviet-era seaside resort into a winter sport paradise.

"A lot has been done, but it's still a long way from perfection, (there is) still work to be done," the Russian leader said while meeting with officials in the Black Sea city to discuss Olympic preparations.

"We have the New Year and Christmas holidays ahead of us. I'd like to say, I think it should be clear that for you, New Year's will come... on March 18. For you and for everyone who is working on the Olympic venues," he said in televised remarks.

In this photo provided by Olympictorch2014.com torch bearers Yulia Bozhenova and Alexei Soloviev hold their torches during the Olympic torch relay in southern Siberi, Russia. (AP Photo)

"Everyone working on this massive, grandiose project must understand this," added Putin, who has regularly visited the area, posing on ski slopes in the mountains.

Russia will hold the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games between February 7 and March 17.

On Wednesday, Putin visited mountain venues in pouring rain and observed a ski jumping complex as water streamed down the structure.

A handout picture released by the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Organising Committee shows swimming champion Nikolai Petshak carrying an Olympic torch. (AFP Photo/Sochi 2014 Organising Committee)

Russia has said it is installing snowmaking machines that will provide enough snow whatever the weather conditions.

While the International Olympic Committee officials have given Sochi a thumbs-up on their visits, the preparations have faced heavy criticism from rights groups and environmentalists.

Preparations for the Games have been marred by Russia's adoption this year of a tough new law imposing jail terms for people promoting homosexual "propaganda" to minors.

The measure has spurred calls by gay rights activists and some celebrities to boycott the Sochi Olympic Games altogether.

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