Russia 2018 Learns Lessons in Sochi

(ATR) The team behind the 2018 FIFA World Cup is thankful for the knowledge it gained during the Winter Olympics.

Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony rehearsals on February 4, 2014. The opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Winter will take place on February 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE        (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony rehearsals on February 4, 2014. The opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Winter will take place on February 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) Russia 2018 World Cup leader Alexey Sorokin tells Around the Rings his team has learnt valuable lessons from the Sochi Olympics as they prepare for a fact-finding mission to Brazil.

The CEO of the organizing committee spent six days at the Games and praised his counterpart Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of Sochi 2014, for staging a "very well-organized" event.

Saying he had "good impressions" from Russia 2018’s observer role at the Olympics, Russia’s first Winter Games, he said the hosts were "very hospitable with good volunteer work," adding that he found it "quite easy to get around."

"Security was very good. Everybody felt safe. I never doubted it would be organized in a top-class fashion," Sorokin told ATR.

"We can’t copy-paste certain experiences ... but we will try to organize the same atmosphere."

Sorokin noted the attention to detail in the organization of Sochi 2014 and hopes to replicate this on the larger scale of the FIFA World Cup in four years’ time.

"There is nothing which is less important than anything else, all the details ... small organizational issues, starting from fans arriving until they leave the country," he said.

He added: "[Sochi 2014] managed to have a very good visual effect of the Games. All the visuals were well-placed, not overwhelming, but sufficient to produce a good, friendly climate."

"Our case, it’s quite a task with 11 [World Cup host] cities."

Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium, which was only used for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies, will be revamped post-Games to become a football stadium for the 2017 Confederations Cup and World Cup.

Next up for Sorokin is his update on Russia 2018 preparations to FIFA at an organizing committee meeting of world football’s governing body on March 18 in Zurich.

Lessons from Brazil

Sorokin revealed that the 2018 organizing committee has now expanded to 55 officials. The LOC offices are located next to Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

A Russian delegation, including the majority of LOC officials, will have a major presence at the Brazil 2014 World Cup, which runs from June 12 to July 13.

Sorokin recognizes the importance of maximizing the opportunity before the global spotlight turns on Russia’s World Cup preparations.

"Most important now is to organize our work in Brazil to take full advantage of it," he said, "See as much as possible. Talk to as many experts as possible in host cities and FIFA ... learn as much as possible."

After the World Cup, Russia 2018 switches its focus to the logo launch in September.

Against the backdrop of financial and construction problems delaying Brazil 2014 stadiums, and the threat of Curitiba being axed altogether as a host city, Sorokin retains confidence that the 11 Russian host cities are on schedule.

He said there was "no indication or anything that prompts to discuss any cuts" to the host cities. "The list is approved by everybody."

"I don’t see any issues with finance. The state program is approved and is working and all finances are set for all the stadiums and supporting infrastructure. It’s all earmarked," he added.

Construction of St. Petersburg’s retractable-roof stadium project on Krestovskiy Island is well underway. It will stage the opener and decider of the 2017 Confederations Cup and is a semi-final destination at the World Cup. Sorokin said it is due for completion in early 2016.

Luzhniki Stadium, currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar revamp, stages the other World Cup semi-final and the final.

Building work on the seven other new stadium projects will be launched by the summer, he added.

Written by Mark Bisson

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