The International Olympic Committee should stay "beyond politics" when it decides next month which city will host the games: Sochi, Russia; Pyeongchang, South Korea or Salzburg, Austria, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said.
Moscow has been at odds with some Western nations over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic. Russian President Vladimir Putin, just days before he heads to the Group of Eight summit in Germany, also warned that Moscow could take "retaliatory steps" including possibly aiming nuclear weapons at targets in Europe, according to an interview released Monday.
"The Olympic Games are outside politics, as a rule _ or at least they should be," Zhukov said in Paris, where organizers of the Sochi bid gathered to respond to the IOC report. "I hope that is the case this time."
"I don't want to talk about politics today. Today is a very good day" for the Sochi Olympic bid, Zhukov added.
The IOC released an evaluation report earlier Monday that appeared to give Pyeongchang the edge and warning that Sochi's major infrastructure plans would need to be "tightly monitored."
The IOC announces the bid winner in Guatemala City on July 4.
The head of the Sochi bid, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said, "Russia is a great power ... That should give people confidence" in Sochi's Olympic bid despite the political tensions, he said.