Abramovich to Help Fund Rebuild of Indoor Athletics Arena

March 22, 2011

Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is helping in the rebuilding of an indoor arena in Volvograd, Russia, to enable Russian athletes to improve their training and performances.

The decision came after discussions between Abramovich and Russian athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichyov whilst they were together as a part of the Russian delegation in Zurich in December successfully bidding to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, according to the latter.

Balakhnichyov stated: “The problem is it gets quite cold inside the arena in the winter, making it very difficult to train. Also, the running track is quite old and needs to be replaced.

“I was surprised how smoothly the talks have gone, I know that Abramovich had already asked his people to find out what has to be done and how much it would cost.

“Hopefully, the work could be completed over the summer.”

John Mann, a spokesman for the Russian oligarch, added: “Yes, it’s true that Yelena has approached Roman for help and the talks are ongoing.”

Balakhnichyov added that the new arena would also help other Russian athletes to improve their performances, saying: “Rebuilding the Volgograd arena should help not only Isinbayeva but all other athletes who train there, and we have many others who may follow in their footsteps.

“We also have athletes from the local youth sports academy who regularly train there, so [the] Ministry will also get involved.”