Leader of the Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is set to become the PM, said on October 16 that Georgia should “definitely” compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“We welcome holding of the Olympics,” he told journalists. “Georgia should definitely participate; on our part, as a neighbor we will do everything for these Olympics to be held peacefully without any accidents.”
Ivanishvili made the remarks at a news conference after he was asked to comment on rumors in the Georgian tabloid press as if Georgia’s present authorities were trying to convince the Kremlin that Ivanishvili would try to thwart the Olympic Games in Sochi. “We are planning to thwart the Sochi Olympics?” Ivanishvili said smiling, adding that he does not rule out such attempts were really ongoing by the present authorities. “It’s not serious, but as far as the question was asked, I will respond: of course we have nothing to do with it and have not considered anything like that.”
Although never saying it directly that Georgia should boycott Sochi Olympics, President Saakashvili was always indicating that the venue for 2014 Olympic Games was problematic.
“It is a huge problem, because just few kilometers from the Olympic site Russia has officially, on the political level legalized ethnic cleansing [in Abkhazia],” Saakashvili said in February, 2011. “In this sense they have problems, but this problem was not created by us. We would be happy if we could resolve this problem gradually through joint efforts with Russia.”
When asked during an interview with the Czech news channel ČT24 in October, 2011 whether Georgia would boycott the Sochi Olympics or not, Saakashvili responded that it was not up to him, but up to the Georgian National Olympic Committee to decide.
He, however, again stressed that the Sochi was just next to Abkhazia where ethnic cleansing took place and also added: “It’s also the place where the Cherkess genocide took place.”
Last year Georgia became the first and so far the only country, which has recognized the 19th century massacre and deportations of Circassians by the tsarist Russia in the northwest Caucasus as “genocide”.
When asked what his personal opinion was about whether Georgia should take part in the Sochi Olympic or not, Saakashvili did not give a direct answer, saying that it was still too early to say what would happen by 2014.
Georgia was itself competing for hosting 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Borjomi and Bakuriani. But after Georgia’s bid was eliminated, President Saakashvili said in February, 2007, that Georgia would support Russia’s bid to hold the Olympics in Sochi.
Saakashvili said in February, 2011 Georgia supported “openly and with huge enthusiasm” Sochi’s bid, “because I thought that it would have helped us avoid those negative trends which were already obvious at the time, especially in respect of Abkhazia.”