January 1 - Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has insisted Sochi 2014 is for athletic achievements and that "terrorism must never triumph" in his New Year's message following two deadly bombs in the Russian city of Volgograd this week.
The German, who succeeded Jacques Rogge to assume the most powerful position in world sport in September, condemned what he called a "despicable attack" - which left more than 30 people dead - on the nation as it gears up to host the Olympics in less than six weeks.
Despite the suicide bombings highlighting the nation's vulnerability to militant attacks, he claimed in his message that he trusts that the authorities will "deliver a safe and secure Olympic Winter Games for all athletes and all participants", but said that "we must ensure that nothing interferes with them [the athletes] realising their full potential on the world's biggest sporting stage".
He also insists the Games be "a demonstration of unity in diversity" and "not a platform for politics or division", perhaps hinting at the unrest following the introduction of Russia's controversial anti-gay propaganda law earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Bach claimedt 2014 is shaping up to be a significant year for the Olympic Movement, with not only Sochi 2014 in February but also the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games in August, but he admits that more changes are necessary over the next few years - something he has been talking to his Presidential election challengers about.
"Since September I have initiated a dialogue on major themes outlined in my electoral platform with the five other Presidential candidates, IOC members and the broader Olympic family," he said.
"This dialogue has already generated a number of important ideas that will form the basis of the Olympic Agenda 2020, a road map for the Olympic Movement under the leadership of the IOC that we aim to have finalised by the end of 2014.
"Our discussions have centred on three major themes: sustainability, credibility, and youth, thereby addressing the main topics of preserving the uniqueness of the Olympic Games; focusing on the athletes as the heart of the Olympic Movement; fostering Olympism year-round; defining the role of the IOC; and improving the structure and organisation of the IOC."
Bach said the next step is a brainstorming session for the IOC Executive Board ahead of Sochi 2014 and he expects the process to culminate in Monaco on December 6 and 7 when the Olympic Agenda 2020 will be presented for final approval to an IOC Extraordinary Session.
Bach also spoke about the fight against doping in sport and highlighted the fact that the IOC has increased the number of pre-competition tests for Sochi 2014 by 57 per cent compared to Vancouver 2010.
"The IOC Executive Board has created a fund of $10 million (£6 million/€7 million) to be used, in particular, for better scientific research in the field of anti-doping, and another fund of $10 million (£6 million/€7 million) to better protect clean athletes from any kind of manipulation and related corruption," he added.
Meanwhile, he thanked Rogge for his legacy, which has left a solid foundation on which to build the Olympic Movement, and said it was "a great honour to have been granted the responsibility of leading the IOC on September 10".
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
December 2013: Second bomb in Volgograd kills 14 as IOC President condemns "despicable attack"
September 2013: Bach moves into office at IOC headquarters after becoming new President
September 2013: Bach must now turn to future after being winner "majority of people" wanted
September 2013: Bach named new President of International Olympic Committee