MOSCOW - Russia on Wednesday celebrated 100 days before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in the coastal resort of Sochi, with the International Olympic Committee chief promising an "unforgettable" event. Sochi organisers presented a new uniform designed for the event's staff and volunteers, while television pictured cheering crowds surrounding Olympic countdown clocks in Sochi and other cities.

Russia's Central Bank unveiled its "Olympic" banknote of 100 rubles, the country's most popular denomination, which features a snowboarder leaping above the Olympic Park on the Black Sea shore. State television showed 100 people standing to form the number "100" in the Olympic Park, jumping up and down and waving to the cameras. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who on Tuesday met President Vladimir Putin and toured Sochi stadiums, said that "with only 100 days to go, the Sochi 2014 venues look impressive."

"I'm confident that the Olympians of 2014 will be able to go home with some unforgettable memories." Sochi, Russia's biggest seaside resort and spa on the Black Sea popular with domestic tourists, was proposed as a Games host by Putin and has seen more than $50 billion invested over six years in infrastructure, hotels and sports venues. The project has also suffered its share of criticism from environmentalists and rights organisations, who accused the government of paying no regard to untouched mountain wilderness, the rights of unpaid migrant workers, and the properties of local residents. This year Sochi was also targeted by gay rights groups, some of which have sought a boycott to protest against a disputed new law banning the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.

Putin has promised that Sochi will be "comfortable" for all athletes and guests regardless of their ethnicity or sexual orientation.