LONDON The Ukrainian city of Lviv, which hosted matches in this year's Euro soccer championship, is now eyeing a bid for the 2022 winter Olympics, Ukraine Olympic chief Sergei Bubka said on Thursday.
Bubka, a former Olympic champion and still the pole vault record holder, said Lviv was eager to develop winter sports in the region after Ukraine gained experience in staging major events as co-hosts of Euro 2012 with Poland.
"The president of Ukraine gave the task to study the possibility to present a bid for 2022 for that city," Bubka told Reuters in an interview. "For us winter sports is a future task."
The 2022 Games host will be selected in 2015 with the bidding campaign kicking off next year. Several cities in the United States have also expressed an interest in bidding.
Russia's Sochi will host the 2014 winter Olympics while Pyeongchang in South Korea will stage the 2018 Games.
"This can bring development to the region. Ukraine was designated as a summer sports region under the Soviet Union. Now we want to develop the mountains there, the infrastructure, resorts," said Bubka.
The Ukrainian, who dominated his sport like few others, is now both an International Olympic Committee Executive Board member as well as an International Association of Athletics Federations vice president.
Dressed in his country's yellow-blue team uniform and still looking as fit as 20 years ago when he broke the world record at will, Bubka said fans at the London Olympics should not expect world record performances in the pole vault competition.
While the men's event is wide open with defending champion Steve Hooker struggling to find his form, Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva looks set for a third straight gold medal in the women's competition.
The peerless Russian, with 28 world records to her name, is brimming with confidence after overcoming problems with form and motivation that led her to take an 11-month sabbatical in 2010.
"How high you go does not matter at the Olympics, it is all about winning and the most important is to be Olympic champion. There is double pressure at the Games for the athletes," Bubka said.
"For Yelena, she is a great athlete, she has achieved everything and it basically all depends on her."
Bubka said athletics, the flagship sport at the Games, needed to become more attractive to younger generations as well as broadcasters as the IAAF looks to restrict meets to under three hours.
He would also like to see medals ceremonies at the athletics world championships held outside the stadium to draw bigger crowds in the host cities and avoid holding up events inside.
"Each period has its own challenges and we have to consider that," he said. "So at the world championships for example why interrupt the competition?
"The medals ceremony could take place in the center of the city, bring the athletes there, make a big event and attract bigger crowds. So in the stadium we can focus on the competition."
Bubka kept quiet over a potential run for the IAAF top post once president Lamine Diack steps down in 2015 or earlier.
Fellow IAAF Vice President Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 Games chief, announced days ago he would be making a run for the presidency.
"I am happy to be in sport. I consider myself a lucky man. I had a great career in sport. I am happy with what I am doing right now," Bubka said.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)