- Daily Zen
Getting a chance to organize and host the 2014 Winter Olympics is one of few opportunities when Russia can show the whole world how big and powerful it is. And it is – nothing to sneeze at. Yet, the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi amounted to record $50 billion. Billions of dollars are being spent to rebuild national prestige and pride. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will not only be about sport and opportunities for the Russia’s economy, but it will be a chance to again find the national identity which has been lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
To fulfill dreams of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Russian billionaires are spending billions of dollars in order to turn a patch of mountainside into an attraction aimed at luring rich tourists. Sochi is expected to be a world-class ski resort which will be the epicenter of modern national pride.
The project of the 2012 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which is the Black Sea resort town, was initially estimated at approximately $12.2 billion. However, time passed and the estimations changed. According to the latest estimate, the 2014 Winter Olympics project will cost as much as $50 billion. Frankly speaking, this is a hefty sum. The sport event will be the most expensive ever, but what the heck – Russians have a big imagination and Russia is a big spender just like in the era of tsars.
Russia is not so much different from any other Olympic hosts as its plans are just overambitious. Yet, the project of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is beyond Russia’s wildest dreams as $50 billion is indeed a hefty sum for building a ski village and other facilities. Some analysts note that the record sum is a result of a wrong allocation. While commenting on the Winter Olympics project, analysts underline that when in it comes to big-scale projects, funds usually vanish in Russia.
Not surprisingly, some allegations have been circulating. But no one was caught red-handed. However, the amount of $50 billion is starling especially in comparison to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver which cost only $3.6 billion. While private investors and affluent oligarchs are deeply engaged in financing new expenses, they are also louder and louder commanding financial funds and help from the country.
The 2014 Winter Olympics project is expected to bring publicity and create a positive image of Russia in the world. Yet there are more concerns over the cost of the ambitious plan. Is it enough to introduce all these desired changes? Will the organization of the 2014 Winter Olympics change the portrait of Russia?
These and many more questions are left without answers as new issues come out in the open, including migrant workers’ problems and the issue of basic human rights. And even if we should not mix sport and politics, Russia is facing much criticism because of the “exploitation” at Sochi. According to a survey conducted by Human Rights Watch, migrant workers struggled and faced many rights violations, including wage arrears, the confiscation of identification documents, etc.
The issue of money, the issue of rights violations, the issue of politics and many more call into the question whether the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be a huge success or an utter turkey. What is interesting is that the newest history tells us that Olympic Games can drive its city-organizers in problems – just look at London and Athens.