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Saakashvili: Sporting Errors Should Not Be Fatal


President Mikheil Saakashvili says he has plans for the Georgian government to help build a sliding center and name it after deceased Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in the athlete's home town of Bakuriani.

President Mikheil Saakashvili says he has plans for the Georgian government to help build a sliding center and name it after deceased Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in the athlete's home town of Bakuriani.

VANCOUVER -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says "no sports mistake” should lead to a death.

Saakashvili was speaking at the Vancouver Olympics, a day after 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a crash during a training run on the Olympic luge track.

Earlier, the International Luge Federation said the crash was apparently the result of a human error by Kumaritashvili and "there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track."

"One thing I know for sure -- that no sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death,” Saakashvili told a news conference in Vancouver. “No sports mistake is supposed to be fatal.”

Saakashvili noted that some concerns had been raised about the safety of the track before Kumaritashvili’s February 12 crash -- but the president added that he is not a technical expert, and he stopped short of accusing anyone of negligence over the incident.

Saakashvili said he has plans for the Georgian government to build a sliding center and name it after Kumaritashvili in the luger's home town of Bakuriani, a leading Georgian winter sports venue.

"It is important to do this so young people can follow his career. This tragedy will not scare them off, it will bring them to this sport," Saakashvili said, adding that Kumaritashvili came from a long line of lugers, including his father and his uncle.

Saakashvili also praised the Georgian team's decision to remain at the Vancouver Games, despite the first death in the sport of luge since 1975.

Vancouver Olympics authorities have made alterations to the track at the Whistler Sliding Center -- raising walls at the spot where the Georgian died and shortening the men's track length to reduce speed, in a bid to reduce safety concerns so the Olympic competition can be held at the facility.

Sliders wore black strips on their helmets the day after the fatal accident, and a minute's silence was held before the competition got under way.

Kumaritashvili was killed when he lost control at high speed towards the end of his run and was launched over the track rim and slammed into a pillar. He died in hospital soon afterwards, casting a shadow over the Games opening ceremony.

compiled from agency reports

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