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A UN environmental group supports the WWF and Greenpeace Russia
A UN environmental group supports the WWF and Greenpeace Russia in their drive to move venues for the 2014 Olympic facilities in Russia's Black Sea resort, the Russian representatives said on Monday.

In its final report on the Sochi-2014 Winter Olympics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), confirmed that the proposed construction of bobsleigh tracks and an Olympic village on the mountainous Grushevy Ridge could cause environmental damage to the conservation area.

"UNEP has proposed that the Russian organizers and the International Olympic Committee immediately consider relocating the facilities," Russian environmentalists said.

Environmental groups said earlier this year that the planned bobsleigh route running along the border of the Caucasus Nature Reserve is one of the most harmful Olympic projects, along with a mountain Olympic village and a rail link in the region, classified by UNESCO as the only mountainous area in Europe that remains virtually undamaged by humans.

Representatives from Russia's two leading environmental bureaus have already appealed to the Sochi Organizing Committee and the Olympstroi state corporation to consider along with independent international experts alternative locations for the facilities.

"Unfortunately, we have to admit that none of these organizations have given us a clear response to our proposals," WWF Executive Director Pyotr Gorbunenko said adding that he expected the UNEP report would receive a better reaction from the organizing committee.

The IOC Coordination Commission visited Sochi in late April, when Chairman Jean-Claude Killy said Russia was on the right track in its preparations for the 2014 event.

"After a visit by the IOC in April, Russian authorities said that no facilities would be relocated, but we hope that the UNEP report will make the officials reconsider and prompt the IOC to encourage an independent review of alternative locations for the facilities," said Andrei Petrov of Greenpeace Russia.

The Coordination Commission was established by the IOC to specifically monitor preparations for the Olympic Games. Based on recommendations from the Coordination Commission, the IOC, in particular, makes decisions regarding relocation of disputed Olympic facilities and, in extreme case, can force the IOC to change host cities.

Sochi won the right to host the Olympics during an International Olympic Committee session in Guatemala in July 2007 after a close race with South Korea's Pyeongchang and Austria's Salzburg.

Russia will be hosting the Winter Olympics for the first time. Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics in 1980, but the event was marred by a U.S.-led boycott involving more than 60 countries.

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