Sochi to host Winter Olympics in 2014

Sochi 2014 logo The IOC announced yesterday that it had selected Sochi in the Russian Federation to host the Winter Olympics in 2014. You can read their press release here.

I have been to Sochi, just before the summer tourist season opened in 2001. I have a hard time believing that, even with 7 years head start and $12 billion that President Vladimir Putin has pledged to the project, Sochi will be remembered fondly by Olympians or guests. That comes simply from my experience with Russian project management and building practices. I expect the athletes to be sleeping in Potemkin Villages.

But here’s my speculation, and you heard it here first: the 2014 Olympics will be the impetus for Russia to reform its restrictive and ancient visa regime. I believe the international spotlight being shone on the country will bring Russia to scrap its Soviet-era invitation requirement and streamline application and registration processes. Heck, the Duma might even vote to bring back forms with English AND Russian instructions. Crazy, I know. I’m probably just an optimist.

Does anyone know of the long-term effects hosting the Olympics has for host cities or regions? Are there any examples — good or bad — of dramatic cultural or economic changes resulting from the investment and attention? Is China doing anything to loosen its visa restrictions for the 2008 summer games?

And just for fun: do you prefer the summer or winter games? And what’s your favorite event?

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11 Responses to Sochi to host Winter Olympics in 2014

  1. laikal says:

    I have no idea about the development implications of hosting the Olympics, but I’ll chime in to say that the Winter Olympics are way more fun than the summer games. Skiing in all its forms, boarding, ice skating (racing and artistic) — what in the world does the summer games have to compete with that? Swimming and track. Bah. Give me the Super-G over the 200m sprints or yet another lap of the pool any day.

    Plus, they actually put the Biathlon on tv, whereas they mostly try to pretend that the summer martial arts (fencing, judo, karate) don’t exist (mostly ’cause they suck).

  2. Aimee says:

    I hope you are correct in thinking visas will get easier because of the Olympics! I wouldn’t necessarily hold my breath, though. I think it’s just as likely that Russia will take this opportunity to make oodles of money off of the visa process and visa prices will skyrocket. Or maybe I’m just cynical.

    My favorite sport to watch is gymnastics, which is in the summer Olympics. Ice-skating is a close second though and makes the winter Olympics for me.

  3. Dana says:

    Hey now, laikal! The summer martial arts, particularly, in my opinion, karate, do not suck. However, I’ve never actually minded that they’re not prominently televised, because I don’t think I could take the overlay of largely ignorant commentary and personal interest stories.

    As for the question of summer vs. winter, I’m not sure I have a strong opinion, given that I don’t have much real interest in any of the sports for themselves. I generally just like the Olympics as a whole for being what they are, because I can still remember all the excitement they generated when I was a child. They’re a worldwide event! Everyone is watching!

    When I have some time, I’ll try to poke around to find out more about China’s preparations. I know some of their prep to make themselves more palatable to the world has been making news. They surely want more English teachers lately, that’s for sure.

  4. Sportsattitude says:

    Winter Olympics was always far and away my favorite. More concise and focused (i.e. much smaller in scale). The Summer Olympics are simply too many people competing in too many sports.

    Favorite events would be the men’s and women’s downhill races.

  5. laikal says:

    Dana,
    :). I was wondering how long it would take you to post a response ;). I’ve got no problems with their demonstrations and kata exhibitions (those are usually pretty cool), just with the sport sparring for medals (same with fencing). The whole point-scoring for victory and body armor just makes it seem like an oddly competitve demonstration rather than a fight.

    (p.s. Karate is, I guess, just a “demonstration sport” — it’s Taekwondo that’s official. My mistake.)

  6. Dana says:

    Laikal,

    Oh, bleh, sparring. That’s even less fun to watch when you understand that all of the things that make the people good at sparring are more aptly demonstrated in their kata. My own sparring ability improved tremendously in the year I refused to spar and worked exclusively on kata.

    I’m actually not surprised that Taekwondo is the official Olympic-recognised martial art, (besides judo, which is really a different thing.) Taekwondo is far more of a sporty sport, while traditional karate, etc. remain more actually martial art. I was just having a conversation about this Tuesday night after karate…

    You know what, this is getting very off-topic, I’ll just write a post about it.

  7. TheGnat says:

    I don’t really watch the Olympics unless I’m bored. But both winter and summer hold some interest to me. I like the kayaking, judo, and swimming in the summer, and the boarding, luging (sp?), and hockey in the winter. Judo doesn’t suffer much from the point system they use, I think.

    Laikal, I think every sport is enjoyable to people depending on their own interests and experience. I like the swimming event because I enjoy swimming and know a lot about it, and my father was once good enough that he could have competed in the Olympics. On the other hand, I could care less about the volleyball. Or skiing. I despise skiing.

  8. akdmyers says:

    I have never thought of myself as much of a sports fan, but in recent years I have found myself getting sucked into more and more sports, including during both winter and summer Olympics. I think in general I agree that the winter sports tend to be more exciting – I love the snowboarding events, and luge, and downhill, and ice skating, but last summer Olympics I was surprised to find myself totally engrossed by the swimming, diving and volleyball competetitions (volleyball?!).

  9. Dana says:

    In a brief Google search for “china prepares for olympics”, I get headlines such as these:

    “With the Olympics in Beijing just 500 days away, China has begun cleaning up organ trafficking practices.”

    “China prepares for Olympics by learning how to predict air pollution.”

    “China prepares for Olympics by quieting the press.”

    “The changing face of China: As that country prepares for next year’s Summer Games, some people are upset over the costs of Olympic construction.”

    “Persecution against Christians on rise as China prepares to host Olympics.”

    “China fine-tunes its plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new infrastructure before it hosts the 2008 Olympics”

    And so forth. I remember hearing that they were having to pay close attention to human rights issues, such as workers in semi-slavery, (or outright slavery, such as the brickworkers reported on recently on NPR.) I’ve also heard they are cleaning up the Chinglish on many of the signs in Beijing, to some foreigners’ dismay. It will be interesting to see how much of the new infrastructure and supposed human rights improvements will remain after the Games are over.

  10. artmann says:

    dear jocks: has anyone thot about the under-the-radar insurgencies happening all thru the caucasus…and how much did Putine pay the notoriously cash loving IOC?

  11. Ray says:

    Where can I purchase a Sochi Olympics flag? Can someone help me find one?

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