Considered as the most expensive Olympic Games in history, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics officially started today and was viewed by millions of people around the world.
The opening ceremony was led by Russian President Vladimir Putin and was highlighted with classical music, light shows, floats and flying girl.
Although the venue has been plagued with controversy, especially on security risks, no one can stop the 2014 Winter Olympics. This event is the biggest in history so far, with a total of 98 events in fifteen different sports disciplines.
The Road to Sochi
Sochi was selected as the winning bidder to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The pick was done in July of 2007 during the 119th IOC Session. An interesting fact about the city being chosen is that it’s actually the very first Olympics to be held in Russia since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. The last time Russia hosted the games was in 1980, and that was the summer Olympics held in the capital, Moscow.
There are two clusters of venues for the events. First, there’s the Olympic Park situated in the Imeretinsky Valley in the city. It’s a nice view facing the Black Sea. The snow events meanwhile will be held at the Krasnaya Polyana.
Just like any other international competitions, the Sochi 2014 Olympics has been prepared and organized by the Olympic Committee to become a success. For instance, organizers emphasized the modernization of electric power, telecommunications, and transportation infrastructures. Even if the initial budget for the games was at $12 billion, it eventually ballooned to more than $51 billion, something that the government justified by saying that various factors had to be considered. With that kind of cost, Sochi has surpassed the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as the most expensive in the history of the games.
Controversies and Issues
But the entire event won’t go without controversies. This time, the lead up to the events was kind of overshadowed by issues of corruption, security concerns, and the issue of the country’s ban on homosexuality and not-so traditional sexual orientations and beliefs, which by the way precipitated minor protests on anti-gay laws in the country. But the most glaring issue of all was security. There was doubt on the part of the U.S. team and other European countries about the ability of the government to handle the threat from jihadists in the North Caucasus.
The Winter Olympic Games: Looking Back
The Winter Olympic Games has become one of the biggest international sporting events in the modern era. It is played every four years. The very first one happened in 1924 and the city of Chamonix in France was the first ever host. The original events at that time were alpine and cross-country ski, ice hockey, ski jumping, speed skating, and figure skating. From then on, the Olympics have been held every four years. The only time this was interrupted was during World War II.
What’s Interesting in Sochi?
– The idea of hosting a “winter” Olympics in a subtropical summer resort was at first unconventional and impossible. Even if Sochi is the warmest place to host the event, the city has succeeded in its snowmaking operation, making sure there is sufficient snow for the games.
– Although the town is quite small with less than half a million people, it will become the center of attention this February, thanks to more than six thousand Olympic athletes expected to arrive, representing eighty countries overall. And aside from the expected 500,000 spectators, there will also be 13,000 media personnel and about 25,000 volunteers. Now that’s a lot of people!
– Talk about nature? In Sochi, it’s not just about the snow, or the lack thereof. The games are amazingly geared towards being environment-friendly. The Russian government leaned towards using environmentally-friendly building materials as well as renewable sources of energy.
Finally, if you are planning a trip to Sochi to watch the games, never bring with you thermos, TV, vuvuzelas, and even bicycle! Yes, apart from the usual prohibited stuff like firearms and explosives, bringing those things won’t give you a ticket inside the games.