IOC President Thomas Bach eager for Sochi Games to begin, anticipates 'spectacular show'




SOCHI, Russia — The sun’s out. The athletes are ready. Let’s get this show started.

That was the message Friday from IOC President Thomas Bach, who was eager to attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics and put aside the concerns over security and gay rights that have dogged the buildup to the games.

“From what I hear, we can expect a spectacular show,” he said. “Maybe I will have goose bumps all night long.”

Bach, presiding over an Olympics for the first time since his election as IOC president September, said the world will now turn its focus to the spectacle of the games and the performances of the athletes.

“It’s time it finally starts,” he said. “The games are getting kicked off. Everything has been prepared. The athletes are really longing for the moment ... and they want their competition to begin.”

And, what’s more, the weather is cooperating.

“The sun is shining on the games and on the athletes,” Bach said.

He spoke at a news conference after the close of a three-day IOC session, which reviewed the preparations for Sochi as well as debated ideas for future changes in IOC operations.

Bach and his inner circle held their first daily coordination commission meeting Friday with Sochi organizers to review the running of the games. Among other things, organizers have been scrambling to resolve issues with hotels that are not ready.

“Everything is going pretty smoothly,” Bach told the delegates. “As always in the first days of the games, there is a small hiccup here or there, but nothing really substantial so far. We can look to ... anticipation and excitement and hope that we will have a great opening ceremony for a great Olympic Games.”

Russia has mounted a massive security operation to guard the games, deploying tens of thousands of police and military personnel, as well as naval ships, drone aircraft and anti-missile batteries.

The games come amid threats of attacks by Islamic insurgents from the North Caucasus. A pair of suicide bombings in Volgograd in late December killed 34 people.

Bach recalled the tight security he experienced as an athlete at the 1976 Montreal Games, four years after an attack by Palestinian gunmen that left 11 Israeli athletes and coaches dead. Bach won a gold medal in fencing for West Germany in Montreal.

“There, security was much more obvious and closer to you than it is here now,” he said.