Stick to the construction timetable, IOC urges Sochi

By Karolos Grohmann

DUBAI (Reuters) - Organizers of the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics were urged on Thursday to keep up their construction pace as Europe's largest building site is still a long way away from resembling an Olympic city.

Sochi, which won the Games in 2007 with the majority of its venues needed to be built from scratch, has pledged to start construction of every venue by the end of this year.

It has also got to build sufficient accommodation for visitors and working staff, the IOC said.

"We are happy to see the progress... mainly in the field of construction," Gilbert Felli, the International Olympic Committee's Games Executive Director told reporters.

"But this project is a huge project. The timing is always something we are scrutinizing very carefully. We are happy with the deadlines but there is still a lot to do.

He said Organizers must meet the volume of necessary accommodation for visitors, workers as well as athletes and officials while also moving more organization staff from Moscow to Sochi "to be hands-on on the preparations."

The IOC earlier on Thursday was briefed on the progress by Sochi Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko who confirmed that an ally of Russia's Prime minister Vladimir Putin would become the new Russian Olympic chief.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, the government's point man for the Sochi Games preparations, will replace Leonid Tyagachyov, who resigned as Russian Olympic chief following the country's worst ever showing at February's Vancouver Olympics.

"It is a unique model of a lack of conflict of interest," Chernyshenko said.

(Editing by Justin Palmer)