UN Gives Sochi Green Thumbs Up; Trouble for Sports Summit

(ATR) UN lauds organizers’ efforts ... Doubts surround upcoming conference ... “Oarsome Foursome” member retires ... British Olympic Ball gets presenting partner ...

UN Praises Sochi Environmental Protection

Sochi 2014's environmental protection plans for the Winter Olympics win applause from the United Nations.

Theodore Oben, a senior official at the United Nations Environment Program, today highlighted the determination from all stakeholders involved in Sochi 2014 to ensuring that Russia’s first Winter Games has a positive environmental impact.

"Everybody that I have talked to, not only within the Sochi 2014 organizing committee but also the state corporation Olympstroy, the ministry of natural resources and other involved parties are keen to cooperate and unite efforts in greening the Games," he said.

Writing in a blog following an inspection visit to Russia, Oben said the entire Sochi 2014 project was "full of very active people, dedicated to bringing positive sustainable change to their country".

Acknowledging that the huge construction effort for the Olympics involved many challenges - many venues are being built from scratch - Oben voiced confidence that the leadership and staff would be successful in achieving ambitious environmental protection goals.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, president and CEO of Sochi 2014, said: "Sochi 2014 is working closely with Mr Oben and the UNEP to ensure that we receive world leading advice about our environmental program.

"We are currently collaborating to monitoring the roll-out of Sochi 2014’s green construction standards across all Olympic related developments."

Oben's comments coincided with the Russian Railways' announcement to build an overpass as part of its construction of the combined road and rail link between Adler and the Alpika-Service mountain resort.

The overpass, to be built on the second section the combined road between the first and second tunnels, aims to help preserve and enhance the unique natural habitat in the region. The construction will enable a significant area of land to be re-cultivated, including the planting of box plants and other rare varieties of trees and plants.

Sochi 2014 said the overpass would also ensure that the largest area in which box plants grow is left intact and the chance of soil erosion in the area is significantly reduced.

Russian Railways took the decision this week in conjunction with environmental organizations including Greenpeace Russia and the World Wildlife Fund.

Chernyshenko added:"The overpass is a significant illustration of our committed to limiting the environmental impact of the construction of new infrastructure and facilities by setting areas aside to compensate for any loss of habitat caused by development.

"We are implementing a range of measures to ensure we limit our environmental impact, such as completing an environmental impact survey for each construction site, frequent inspections to ensure compliance with environmental laws and the measurement of air pollution,while the majority of developers employ in-house professional ecologists to oversee this work."

Global Sport Industry Summit Concerns

Doubts have been cast about the organization of the Global Sport Industry Summit scheduled to take place in Paris next month.

Around the Rings has learned that a number of speakers and partners have pulled out of the event over concerns that the people claiming to be the organizers have no plans to stage the event. It is scheduled to be held at the Paris Grand Chorum, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1.

Concerns grew when some delegates received word that the previous venue in Paris listed on the official website, Palais de Congres, said it had no booking for any sports conference on those dates.

A venue change was only announced on the website on Aug. 14. But the website has barely been updated in recent months - the last announcement before that was in June.

The Paris phone number listedon the website also does not work.

Emails sent by Around the Rings to conference CEO Thomas Dieter Hagen and several of his colleagues listed on the website's contacts page have not been returned.

Delegates are being asked to pay 880 euros ($1,130) to attend the conference, which is billed as an event bringing together "a powerful community of leaders who are setting the agenda for the international sports industry".

Olympic Rower Floats On In Life

Six-time Olympian James Tomkins is done with competitive rowing.

The Australian turned 45 Thursday and announced he is ready to move on.

Tomkins – part of the famed "Oarsome Foursome" - won his first gold in the coxless four in Barcelona and defended the title in Atlanta. He also took bronze in the coxless pair in Sydney and gold in Athens.

The seven-time world champion carried the Australian flag at the opening ceremony in Beijing, where he finished sixth in the men’s eight.

BT Extends Olympic Partnership to Ballroom

BT, already the official communications services partner of London 2012, can’t seem to get enough of Team Great Britain.

The telecom giant will present next month’s British Olympic Ball, the British Olympic Association announced Thursday.

More than 50 Olympians will join entertainment stars, fashion icons and a thousand Team GB supporters at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London to celebrate the country’s Olympic hopefuls.

BT’s sponsorship of the annual BOA fundraiser runs through 2012.

Tickets for the Sept. 24 event are still available here.

Written by Matthew Grayson and Mark Bisson.