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Leading the Sochi Olympics: What Will Be the Lasting Legacy?

By Spiro Doukas, Ph.D., Global Sport Management News Section Editor, and
Lisa Miller, Ph.D., Global Sport Management News Editor

SochiLegacySochi will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in February, 2014.  The past, present, and future of Russian sport leadership comes into focus as time progresses toward the mega sporting event.  Russia experienced rapid growth for the past several years and even though the financial stability was respectable for the awarding of the Olympics, costs begin to exceed forecasts with the building or restructuring of stadiums and infrastructure associated with the Olympics.  The forethought must be implemented appropriately about how to logistically host fans, athletes, coaches, and volunteers.

With building and growth come additional business and jobs for Sochi in areas of construction, utilities, and tourism.  The sport investments into Sochi will hopefully stimulate their economy, but much depends on the leadership progressing up to and after the events.  Will the preparations be able to stay on schedule?  How will the actual staging of the events unravel with the huge increase in visitors?  More importantly, what will be the lasting legacy of the Sochi Olympic leadership?

Sochi is in a Russian resort city with a population of roughly 343,000 people and is located in Southwestern Russia on the Black Sea. This Olympic city is close to the countries of Georgia and Armenia and is on the southwestern end of the Caucasus Mountains. This region of the world around the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains has some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes to be found. Sochi has a humid subtropical climate and is warmer than that of the previous winter Olympic host of Vancouver, Canada which means that snow and ice must be manmade.  Temperatures in January and February in Sochi hover in the low 50s (Fahrenheit) for highs and upper 30s for lows. These winter Games will be held from February 6th through February 23rd, 2014. The original budget for Sochi 2014 was at $12 billion (U.S. dollars) when the city won the bid in 2007 but has now reached $51 billion. This will make Sochi 2014 the most expensive Olympic Games ever. This budget exceeds the 2008 Beijing Olympics by $11 billion ($51B and Change: Sochi Most Expensive Olympics Eve, 2013).

The aim for Russian president Vladimir Putin is to have Sochi become a year round world resort. The Fisht Olympic Stadium is the main stadium with a capacity of 40,000 spectators. Fisht Olympic Stadium is located in the Olympic park together with the Puck Ice Arena (capacity 7,000 spectators), the Iceberg Winter Sports Palace (capacity 12,000 spectators), the Bolshol Ice Palace (capacity 12,000 spectators), the Ice Cube Curling Center (capacity 3,000 spectators), and the Adler Arena Skating Center (capacity 8,000 spectators). This Olympic park is located directly on the Black sea (Ponomareva, Y., 2013, 2013).

About an hour’s drive northeast of the city in the mountains is where the downhill skiing center is along with the extreme park, the free style center, the snowboard park, the luge center, the skiing and biathlon complex, and the ski jump complex. On the whole, these winter Olympics are considered to be the most compact winter games ever. A few minutes walking separates the facilities in the Olympic Park in Sochi (Ponomareva, Y., 2013).

Overall, 14 new facilities have been built such as stadiums, arenas, rinks, and 84 new 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star hotels have been built (Ponomareva, Y., 2013). Many new highways have been built to connect this remote Russian city with the larger cities of Russia. Also the 48-kilometer-long Adler-Krasnaya Polyana highway connects Sochi and its Olympic Park with the Olympic alpine resort cutting through forests and rivers of the Sochi National Park. According to some, which links the seashore with the Olympic alpine resort, was built through forests and rivers of the Sochi National Park.  The former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov stated that this specific highway system “changed the air circulation in the area, which made the local climate warmer and caused mountain glaciers to melt” (Nechepurenko, I., 2013). Major flooding in the Sochi area in September of 2013 raised many questions of how well this new infrastructure will actually hold up and whether this ecologically sensitive region has been environmentally tainted by the Olympic construction.

One keystone that is certain will be that a $51 billion price tag exceeded expectations, and for Sochi leadership, it’s yet to be seen what the lasting legacy will actually be. Cities such as Barcelona, Athens, Turin, Beijing, Vancouver, and London have created legacies, with some being more desirable than others. Sochi’s legacy could simply be to showcase the warmest and most beautiful winter city to host the winter Olympics in addition to developing the world’s newest world class resort destination now known all across the globe.

References

Ponomareva, Y., March 18, 2013. 2014 Winter Olympics: making Sochi a world class resort. The Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved January 18, 2014 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/rbth/society/9937245/sochi-olympics-sports-facilities.html

$51B and Change: Sochi Most Expensive Olympics Eve, 2013. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved January 18th, 2014 from http://www.businessweek.com/videos/2014-01-12/51b-and-change-sochi-most-expensive-olympics-ever

Nechepurenko, I., September 26, 2013. Floods in Sochi Cast Doubt on Olympic Infrastructure. The Moscow Times. Retrieved January 18th, 2014 from http://www.themoscowtimes.com/sochi2014/Heavy-Rains-Flood-Parts-of-Olympic-Sochi.html

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