By Duncan Mackay
May 7 - Vladimir Putin chose International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge for his first official meeting in the Kremlin after being sworn in again today as Russia's President and underlined that staging a successful Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 remained among his top priorities.
The meeting with Rogge took place less than an hour after Putin's inauguration ceremony, during which the Russian capital Moscow was shut down to ensure that no-one was able to take to the streets to protest about him resuming a role he had previously held between 2000 and 2008.
"Regardless of our internal political events, I want to assure you that the Presidential structures, I personally, the Government of the Russian Federation will give priority attention to – we attach great importance to preparations for the 2014 [Sochi] Olympic Games," Putin told Rogge.
"Our joint work will continue."
The ceremony was also attended by Jean-Claude Killy, the chairman of the IOC's Sochi 2014 Coordination Commission, and René Fasel, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Putin's enthusiasm for the Olympics was reciprocated by Rogge, who predicted that a "shining future of world sport" waits Russia during the next decade, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"It's not just about the Winter Olympics in Sochi, it's also about the football World Cup that will take place in Russia,in 2013, in Kazan the Universiade will take place, Formula One races will be held in your country, the World Championships in athletics and swimming," said Rogge.
"In other words, a shining future of world sport awaits Russia."
After the meeting with Rogge, Putin (pictured), who officially nominated the man he replaced, Dmitry Medvedev, to be the country's next Pime Minister, took part in an ice hockey match.
The event was attended by Fasel, who watched Putin's team win 6-5 after a penalty shoot-out.
Putin scored one goal and set up another while playing for a Russian Amateur Hockey League select against a legends' team boasting Vyacheslav Fetisov, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, who was Russia's Sports Minister in 2007 during Sochi's successful bid.
"I've watched with great pleasure how people from the older generation come to sports facilities, how they stay in sport, how they engage with sport," said Putin
Opposition players often appeared reluctant to challenge the newly-installed President, who played in the number 11 jersey and signed his teammates' kit after the game.
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