Upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia help politicians to find common ground and encouraged one Russian city to reassess the past.
The preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are in full swing with eleven sports venues already built and being tested since the beginning of 2013. The XXII Olympic Winter Games will be celebrated from 7 to 23 February 2014 with ninety-eight events in fifteen winter sports being held. Both the Olympic and Paralympic Games are organized by the Sochi Organizing Committee (SOC).
In many bigger cities, a countdown clock was installed to count how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left until the Olympics commenced (263 days, 13 hours, 44 minutes and 53 seconds left at the time of writing this newsletter). These clocks are installed in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Khabarovsk, Yekaterinburg and some other cities. The latter mentioned is interesting with the fact that the clock replaced a memorial dedicated to Lenin, who is still broadly worshiped in Russia. This act may imply that the modern Russia is reflecting on reassessing its past.
Construction in preparation for the Games involve the building of new venues, modernising the telecommunications, power, and transport infrastructure of the area. Russia provides nearly 327 billion rubles (approximately US$10.85 billion) for the total development, expansion and hosting of the Games. Financing from non-budget sources (including private investor funds) is distributed as follows:
- Tourist infrastructure – $2.6 billion
- Olympic venues – $500 million
- Transport infrastructure – $270 million
- Power supply infrastructure – $100 million
- [Resource: Wikipedia]
The Olympics, awaiting to host 1.2 millions of tourists, are not the only major international sports event to be held in Russia in the near future. Within the 5 next years, Russia will host following major sports events:
- Rugby Sevens, June 2013;
- 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, July 2013;
- The Winter Olympics, February 2014;
- The Formula One Grand Prix, 2014;
- The FIFA Confederations Cup, 2017;
- The FIFA World Cup, 2018;
- + other major events such as Ice Hockey, Aquatics and Athletic Championships.
Obviously, such a big number of major events will attract huge numbers of sport fans, tourists, investors, celebrities and, unfortunately, buddies as well. Russia may not be the place where one would expect the highest standards of security, but we could be surprised when we learn about the progress Russia and international security services has done.
One of the most impressive and positive pieces of news is that the UK security services are ready to cooperate for safer Sochi Games. Interaction between British and Russian security agencies has been suspended at the British initiative after the death of ex-officer of Russian Federal Security Service Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. Spring-time negotiations between Russian and British special services, however, result in agreement to cooperate in light of the Boston bombings and the upcoming Olympic games in Sochi. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said: “We are pleased to see the willingness to cooperate for the sake of having a secure and safe Olympics in Sochi.”
What is more, Sochi 2014 organisers promise the ‘safest games in history’. Dmitry Chernyshenko, the CEO of the organising committee assure, that “The security system for the Games was devised with the participation of leading international experts. It conforms to the security demands of an event of this magnitude and has been repeatedly checked at test competitions and other events.”
Security may not be the only concern of major sport events visitors, organisers and participants. Another big issue is the visa obligation. We cannot expect Russian visa requirements will be denied in the blink of an eye, but we may hope that the fact that Putin canceled visa regime for sports delegations, is just the first brick of domino to fall.