Georgian luger's tragedy still haunts his hometown

09:36, February 21, 2011      

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A woman and her child pass by a photo of Nodar Kumaritashvili in his home town of Bakuriani on February 9, 2011. (Photo: AFP)

High in the Georgian mountains, in the ski resort of Bakuriani, an elderly man was gently clearing snow from a memorial to the town's tragic hero, who died at the Winter Olympic Games a year ago.

Topped by the five Olympic rings and adorned with flowers, the somber stone monument depicts the engraved face of 21-year-old luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed when his sled hurtled off the track just before the start of the Winter Games in Vancouver on February 12, 2010.

Here in Kumaritashvili's hometown, there is still sadness about his death, but there is also anger, after new allegations last week that organizers of the Games were warned almost a year in advance that athletes could be "badly injured or worse" on the track where he died.

"Someone should be held responsible for this," said Zaza Siamashvili, who was lighting a candle in tribute to the luger at the memorial.

"They should be held responsible not just because it would make it easier for the family who lost a son, but for people competing in future Olympic Games and risk-related sports, so there is not another accident like this."

Families of tourists on horse-drawn sleighs glide through the snow-covered streets of Bakuriani as the picturesque little town enjoys the winter holiday season, but a huge picture of Kumaritashvili at a main traffic junction ensures that he is not forgotten here.

"What we've just learned is absolutely infuriating for us, because they knew that the track was dangerous months beforehand," said local hotel worker Nugzar Budziashvili.

"If they knew, why didn't they do something about it?"

Source:Global Times

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