The structures themselves are both sleekly elegant and intimate, providing for a close proximity between athletes and spectators. The mountain venues, about an hour by car or train from the coast, are similarly spectacular. A network of gondolas, like pulsing veins up the mountainside, whisk visitors up to 2,320 meters (7,650 feet), while the smooth wood of the bobsleigh track zigzags across the lush forest. A blizzard on Wednesday coated the mountain peaks in snow, helping to ease worries of a repeat of last year’s warm winter. The IOC visit coincided with major storms, unusual for Sochi in September. Down the mountain, heavy rain caused flooding and mudslides, leading authorities to introduce a state of emergency. Killy said that despite the rainfall there had been “no damage anywhere whatsoever” and he was confident that any weather problems “would not stop the games.” He recalled the IOC commission’s first visit in September 2011 and the “unprecedented challenge” Russia faced to put in the necessary infrastructure and build most of the venues from scratch. “In Europe you would probably spend 15 years on that, and here they did it in seven,” Killy said. Russia was awarded the 2014 Olympics in 2007. Kozak asserted that only $7 billion had been spent on the venues themselves, whereas the remaining sum went toward “developing the city and the region” along the Black Sea. SHARE 3 CONNECT 6 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Western powers on the Security Council backed away from many of their initial demands, diplomats say, in order to secure Russia’s approval. A major sticking point between Russia and Western powers was whether the resolution would be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which covers the council’s authority to enforce its decisions with measures such as sanctions or military force. The compromise draft resolution, seen by Reuters, makes the measure legally binding but provides for no means of automatic enforcement with sanctions or military force. Originally, the United States, Britain and France had wanted the resolution to state explicitly that it was under Chapter 7. The only reference to enforcement in the draft is a threat that if Syria fails to comply with the resolution, the council would impose punitive measures under Chapter 7, which would require a second resolution that Russia could veto. A U.S. State Department official hailed the deal as a “breakthrough.” “The Russians have agreed to support a strong, binding and enforceable resolution that unites the pressure and focus of the international community on the Syrian regime to ensure the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons,” the official said. The U.N. Security Council will hold a closed-door session to debate the issue at 8 p.m. (0000 GMT), the French delegation said. A vote on Thursday was not expected, one diplomat said. Diplomats from the permanent Security Council members – China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain – had been haggling over the details of a resolution to back the American-Russian accord announced on Sept. 14 in Geneva to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Assad agreed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons in line with the U.S.-Russian agreement in the wake of that sarin gas strike on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus last month – the world’s deadliest chemical arms attack in 25 years.