For those of you who have been living under a rock, I should inform you that the 2014 Winter Olympics have started in the Russian town of Sochi. How bout that opening ceremony? But beyond the actual news and drama that is coming from the upcoming events and the athletes participating, there is a darker, negative side to the Sochi Olympics that is being brought more and more into the spotlight. To start, the cost of constructing the Olympic village, stadiums and the required infrastructure to host an event of this magnitude has reportedly exceeded 50 billion dollars. The cost for these Olympics dwarfs the cost for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, which had the distinction of being the most expensive Olympics until Sochi. I don’t know about you guys but tweets from @Sochiproblems are as much eye-opening as they are hilarious. I mean somehow the fact that there were two toilets in one stall was overlooked or seen as an acceptable alternative to a normal bathroom! No seriously look:
Best friends are always there for each other I guess (At least they put two toilet paper rolls so you don’t have to share). You can take a look at the tweets here, and I strongly recommend that you do for a good chuckle. But the gross mismanagement and logistics of those Russians in charge of creating the Olympic grounds are not all jokes to poke fun at. Serious accusations have arisen that allegedly accuse the Russian government and the Russian Olympic Committee of rampant corruption. From reports of blatant environmental damage to the statements from Vladimir Putin that greatly lowball the costs of the Olympic construction, there seems to be widespread corruption that is casting an ominous shadow over these Winter Olympics. We’re gonna take a look at exactly what happened in Sochi in a two part focus article, cause honestly it would’ve been hard to keep it at just one. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.
The path to Sochi began in 2007, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was in the midst of the selection process for the 2014 Winter Olympics. After a three year selection process, the city of Sochi was a finalist along with the South Korean city of Pyeongchang and the Austrian city of Salzburg. Reportedly it was the impassioned speech that Putin gave to the IOC selection committee that helped Sochi secure the bid for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics (You can view the whole speech here). Putin pledged to spend about twelve billion dollars for the Sochi Games, which was much higher than any number the other two cities were willing to put forth.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Putin never saw the Sochi Olympics as a mere sporting event, or even a one-of-a-kind public relations opportunity. Rather, he viewed the Games as a way to rejuvenate the entire Caucasus region…Government officials, big construction firms, local subcontractors—everyone knew the Sochi Games were a matter of state prestige and of great personal importance to Putin and his legacy. ”
Putin’s desire to strengthen his legacy and to show the world the new modern Russia meant that no expense would be spared in this Olympic endeavor. But this willingness to utilize whatever funds were necessary to create this image of Putin’s Russia in Sochi meant that there was plenty of funds to cover up mistakes and carelessness in the construction process
Before it was chosen as the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi was a small beach resort town on the coast of the Black Sea near the border of Russia and Georgia. Beyond Putin wanting to economically reboot the Caucasus Region that Sochi resides within, there were not that many positive factors that would suggest that Sochi was a suitable site to host the Olympics.
To start, the actual city of Sochi resides on the slope of a mountain which would hinder any construction within the city itself. Sochi had no existing infrastructure that could support an Olympic venue, which meant that Russia had to build everything from scratch. The only flat land in the area surrounding Sochi is the Imereti Valley, which due to its underground water channels is susceptible to flooding. But neither Putin nor any of the companies contracted to build on the land bothered to have a scientific analysis of the soil done, so the threat of flooding was overlooked. And surprise surprise, flooding, along with landslides, were a chronic problem during the construction process, creating delays and incurring even more construction costs in order to achieve Putin’s Olympic dream.
FOR PART II CLICK HERE