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'Without World Cup, No Economic Growth' In Russia

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich (left) and Aleksei Sorokin, Local Organizing Committee CEO of the Russia 2018 World Cup, attend a news conference on the environmental and economic impact of the tournament in Moscow on April 25.

A senior Russian official says there would be "no economic growth" in the country were it not for spending related to this summer's World Cup soccer tournament.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on April 25 said that preparations for the World Cup in Russia contributed some $14 billion -- about 1 percentage point -- to Russia's gross domestic product (GDP) over the past five years.

"One percent is definitely very serious, a critically important contribution to our development for the country. I can say that without the World Cup, there would be no economic growth at the moment," Dvorkovich told reporters, citing a new economic report.

Dvorkovich said that total spending related to the June 14-July 15 tournament will boost the economy by $26 billion to $30.8 billion over the decade of 2013-23.

"The tournament has already boosted the economic development of the host regions and will continue to have a positive long-term economic impact," he added.

After a two-year recession brought about largely by Western financial sanctions, Russia's economy grew 1.5 percent in 2017, still below President Vladimir Putin's targeted 2 percent growth.

The report said some 220,000 jobs had been created thanks to the World Cup, including those linked to new infrastructure and stadium projects.

Russia spent an estimated $50 billion to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, an endeavor seen by many as a means to boost national prestige.

The spending helped to turn the Black Sea resort into a major year-round tourism location for Russians. But critics have complained of massive waste and widespread corruption related to the event, the costliest Olympics ever.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP