President Vladimir Putin fired Russian Olympic Committee vice president Akmet Bilalov over the construction delays plaguing the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, officials said Thursday.
"People who do not fulfill their obligations on such a grand scale cannot run the Olympic movement in our country," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who is overseeing Olympics preparations, told Russian media.
Putin criticized the construction delays at Sochi, especially the problems in finishing the Russkie Gorky ski jump complex, which was supposed to have been completed in June 2011, during a visit to the resort city on Wednesday.
"So an ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) vice president is blocking the work. Bravo. What a good job you are doing!" Putin said sarcastically.
The ski jump complex was originally budgeted at about $40 million, but some $266 million has been spent on the project, Kozak said.
The price tag for the Sochi Games, the first Winter Olympics to be held in Russia, has soared to around $50 billion, with nearly $38 billion already spent.
A total of 13 sports facilities are being built in Sochi, with the majority of them completed and inaugurated, Putin said.
The Sochi Winter Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on Feb. 7, 2014. EFE