Back in 2007, the Russian city of Sochi was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. This was naturally great news for the campaigners who had seen Sochi narrowly defeat their closest rivals and the plans for this major tournament have been taking shape ever since.
But what do we know about Sochi and what can we expect from this event?
Sochi can be found just inside the South East Russian border in Krasnodar Krai. As a winter sports resort, it has always enjoyed a strong reputation but this naturally grew after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s brought it to a global audience.
The city had been recognised as a centre of sporting excellence and its tennis facilities are credited with shaping the careers of Maria Sharapova and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. The Russian football association also has strong links here.
The right to the host the 2014 Winter Olympics however, was to provide the city with a major challenge.
In June 2006, the IOC announced that Sochi were among the finalists to host the 2014 games alongside their nearest rivals Salzburg in Austria and South Korea’s Pyeongchang.
Just over a year later the International Olympic Committee announced its results and to the delight of everyone involved in Sochi’s bid, they edged out Pyeongchang by just four votes.
This was the first time that the Russian Federation has been granted the games and there was joy on the streets too with many Russians partying long into the night once the announcement was made. Predictably however, not everyone was happy.
Greenpeace’s Mikhail Kreindlin was one of the dissenting voices,
“Sadly, the Olympic bid is being used as a way for construction companies simply to get their hands on the most valuable land,” Kreindlin said. “The last time the Russian government looked at this issue, they made no mention of the Olympic bid.”
As with virtually every other Olympic bid over the last thirty years, Sochi is said to be over budget and behind schedule. In 2008 it was reported that the city had no world class facilities worthy of hosting such an event and it was down to the Government and the private sector to inject $12 billion in order to bring the centre up to standard.
The locations in and around Sochi for 2014 are split between the Sochi Olympic Park, which will host the stadium based events and the Krasnaya Polyana, or Mountain Cluster which is responsible for holding the outdoor competition.
Work continues and with the event a little over two years away, the battle continues for both centres to be ready in time.
The anticipation is underway
Amongst any thoughts of negativity it’s important to remember that Russia has a rich heritage as far as Winter Sports are concerned and as a country, they have contributed towards some of the Winter Olympics’ most memorable moments.
Any event of this kind is subject to teething problems leading up to the start but Sochi 2014 promises to be one of the best competitions in the rich history of the Olympics.