SOCHI, Russia – President Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready, at long last, to host the Winter Games.
It has taken seven years and more money than any country has ever spent on any Olympics.
The Olympic zone on the Black Sea shore still looks like a construction zone. Some hotel rooms aren't finished, just two days before the opening ceremonies. And electricity outages occasionally disrupt the intense security measures.
But Putin, who has made the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Olympics a centerpiece of his presidency, addressed none of that Wednesday on a visit to Olympic sites. Russian news agencies quote him as saying "Russia is ready to host the games."
He also gave a pep talk to Russia's Olympic athletes, after the national disgrace of winning just 15 medals in Vancouver in 2010.