Europe

IOC expects Putin to stick to the script, unlike Bush

IOC president Thomas Bach (left) welcomes Russia's president Vladimir Putin (Right) to a Gala dinner in Sochi on 6 February Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption IOC president Thomas Bach has hosted Russia's president at pre-Games events

Olympics chiefs have said they expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to avoid political statements when he declares the Winter Games open later.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says Mr Putin is meant to stick to a protocol of saying just one sentence.

The Sochi Games have been mired in controversy over Russian laws that discriminate against gay people.

Militants have also threatened to disrupt the Games with bomb attacks.

Protocol dictates the host country's leader should simply declare the Games open.

"The Olympic Charter is very clear. The president of the country can exactly say one sentence," said the IOC leader.

In 2002, with the US still recovering from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W Bush added: "On behalf of a proud, determined and grateful nation" before returning to the traditional wording and saying "I declare open the Games of Salt Lake City."

President Bush also opened the Games standing amongst US athletes, instead of speaking from an official box, in the usual way.

Security threats

Mr Bach discussed the security concerns in Sochi and contrasted them with his own experience at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, when he won gold for West Germany in fencing.

Image caption A Russian air defence system in front of the mountains that will soon see sporting action

"I still remember we arrived (in 1976) with our team and we were led to a bus by armed policemen," he said.

"The security was much more obvious and closer to you than it is here now."

Despite this, the security effort at this year's Winter Games is huge.

The IOC has said President Putin promised 40,000 police and military personnel would be involved in securing the Games.

Road traffic in the area has been curtailed and border crossings have been partially closed.

The Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia are the focus of a revolt by militant Islamists, who have promised to disrupt the Winter Games.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites