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Three Finalists Picked For 2014 Winter Olympics

Children demonstrating in support of Sochi's Olympic bid in March (official site) PRAGUE, June 22, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today picked three finalists from the seven bidding to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"The Executive Board [of the IOC] selected the following candidate cities for 22nd Olympic Winter Games in 2014: Sochi, Salzburg, and Pyeongchang," IOC President Jacques Rogge announced today at a news conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.

So, Russia, Austria, and South Korea continue in the bidding process, beating out competition from Almaty in Kazakhstan, Jaca in Spain, Georgia's Borjomi, and the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The winner from among the three finalists to host the 2014 Winter Olympics will be announced next year.

But why make a selection at this stage? Rogge said the IOC did not want a situation where cities incapable of hosting the games went through the whole bidding process.

But he added some words of encouragement for the four that lost out. "We thank the applicant cities of Jaca, Almaty, Sofia, and Borjomi for the hard work and enthusiasm and invite them to pursue their efforts, so that we can see them bid again in the future," he said.

Salzburg, with its long tradition of winter sports, is seen as the favorite to win. Both the Austrian city and Pyeongchang lost out to Vancouver in their bids to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Sochi, meanwhile, enjoys the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has an official residence there. Like South Korea, Russia has never staged a Winter Olympics.

(compiled from agency reports)