Report: budget for Sochi Olympics will be cut by two-thirds in 2009

Report: budget for Sochi Olympics will be cut by two-thirds in 2009Moscow  - Russia will slash financing toward preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi by near two-thirds this year as it feels the heat of the market crunch, a senior official was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Tuesday.

Regional development minister Viktor Basargin said 33.2 billion rubles (923 million dollars) would be stripped from the 49.8-billion--rubles construction budget for the firm Olympstroi in 2009.

He made the comments to Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin during a meeting on sports.

News of the belt tightening took the wind out of a sponsorship pledged by state oil firm Rosneft good for 180 million dollars to develop Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Russia's markets lost over 70 per cent of their value when the financial crisis hit and the outlook has deteriorated since then on falling oi prices, Russia's main export commodity.

The crisis has shed doubt on the country's ability to build from scratch the state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure required to host the Games in 2014.

Rosneft is the third company to sign up for major sponsorship of the Sochi games after domestic telecom firms Rostelecom and Medgafon promised to cough up 260 million dollars earlier this year. (dpa)