Shaun White out of slopestyle as Sochi opening nears

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SummarySochi Olympics were dealt a blow two days before the opening ceremony when American snowboarding star Shaun White

The Sochi Olympics were dealt a blow two days before the opening ceremony when American snowboarding star Shaun White pulled out of the slopestyle event due to safety concerns, highlighting the real dangers athletes face in extreme winter sports.

The news came as organisers scramble to deal with teething problems including accommodation issues and an outcry over the fate of stray animals being rounded up in Sochi.

Double Olympic champion White, one of the biggest drawcards of Russia's first winter Olympics and among the world's best known winter sports athletes, said on Wednesday he did not want to risk his chances of winning a third halfpipe gold medal.

White's decision came after Norwegian Torstein Horgmo, another medal contender and triple X Games gold medallist, broke his collarbone in a crash on the course on Monday and was ruled out of the Games.

The course was then modified but the changes did not go far enough to keep White in the competition.

The American, who hurt his wrist on Tuesday after falling on a course he described as "intimidating", said it was not worth the risk.

"With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on," White told NBC.

With the focus set to shift to sports on Friday, the International Olympic Committee cast its eyes past the most expensive Games ever staged to look for ways of revamping the global sporting spectacular.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has staked his personal and political prestige on hosting a successful Games and turning the Black Sea resort into a more attractive tourism destination.

GAMES REVAMP

Ratings agency Moody's said in a report on Wednesday that the Sochi Games, which have cost a reported $50 billion, were unlikely to provide much of a boost to the Russian economy.

The IOC, who picked Sochi in 2007 despite it having virtually no venues in place, said it was time to take another look at the cost, size and bidding process for the Games.

Several cities have already pulled out of the race to host the 2022 Winter Games amid concerns about rising costs.

Protests in Brazil ahead of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics have further highlighted the problems associated with hosting mega sports events.

"We believe we should do more to support better bid cities in their engagement," IOC Vice

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