By Jonathan Rest
Sochi 2014, the organising committee for the winter Olympic Games in the southern Russian city in 2014, has welcomed a decision by SportAccord, the umbrella organisation of Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations, to switch the location of its annual convention from Sochi to St. Petersburg next year.
The coastal city had offered to stage the SportAccord Convention between May 26 and 31, 2013, but St. Petersburg was confirmed as the host yesterday in order not to interfere with the games testing programme in Sochi.
Although the winter sports season, in which Sochi will hold 23 test events, will have closed by the time of the 2013 convention, the city is undergoing major work, besides stadia infrastructure development, including a large-scale project to create a "barrier-free" region.
Sochi is set to become the first fully accessible city in Russia in accordance with the International Paralympic Committee.
It had become the tradition for the future Olympic host city to stage the SportAccord Convention the year before the event (Beijing was host in 2007 and London last year) in order to showcase its games facilities, but Sochi 2014 told Sportcal today: "This [switch] will allow us to focus more on the final preparations for the games in early 2013 and to put the finishing touches to the venues and around the city, such as landscaping and public amenities, in order to provide the best service for the guests arriving in Sochi."
Hein Verbruggen, chairman of SportAccord Convention, said: "This decision has been under discussion with our Russian partners for a long time and we are pleased to be able to confirm Saint Petersburg as our 2013 host."
The 10th anniversary edition of SportAccord Convention is due to take place in Québec City in Canada from May 20 to 25.