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Russia To Move Olympic Sites Over Green Concerns

Russia to relocate Olympic sites after UN expresses environmental concerns

7 July 2008 - Triggered by recommendations from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi in south-west Russia will relocate several facilities from a protected wilderness area.

Organizers will find different sites for the bobsleigh and luge tracks and the mountain village - originally planned for construction on the edge of a fragile nature reserve - as suggested by the agency's report from this May.

"The decision to move the Sochi Olympic venues away from the Caucasus reserve is a significant step forward on the road to green the Games in 2014," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

He welcomed what he characterized as the Russian Government's "strong commitment to environmental sustainability" for the Olympics at Sochi, a Black Sea resort city.

The reserve is recognized as a Western Caucus World Heritage Site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is one of the only European mountain areas nearly untouched by human activity. It is also home to some rare and endangered species, such as the West Caucasian tur, a mountain dwelling goat antelope found only in the western half of the Caucasus Mountain range.

In announcing its decision, the Organizing Committee said that it is "committed to creating an environmental legacy for the future of the region."

ENDS

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