Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sochi secures the 2014 Winter Games

Such an event I could not miss. Russia securing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi startled me. The entire proposal which two years ago seemed like a ridiculous government initiative (just think: Russia's warmest city hosting the Winter games!) turned into the most polished, hard-lobbied project not only to promote the candidate city but to promote Russia in the world. The 2014 olympics should, if all goes as planned, do just that.

Despite previous comments about Korea's advantages as another route to the booming economies of Asia, Russia's figuring in Ernst & Young's report as the #5 most attractive destination for investment if not beat out Korea's advantage, at least tied it.
The Russians put an impressive show of strength in Guatemala, by flying in their huge jumbo cargo airplane carrying the equipment needed to sustain an artifical ice rink. Not to mention the multitude of past Russian olympic champions and the "captain" of the team flying on the presidential jet Vladimir Putin himself (the Austrian chancellor took a regional flight to Guatemala). At least the Guatemelis were impressed by Russia's bidding.

Sochi 2014 means first of all a good image for Russia and a solid base for cultural expansion beyond its borders (again if all goes as planned). It also means a promotion of sports in Russia, and a healthy lifestyle, something needed for a population that is dying out fast. Of course, one can imagine the problems that will be associated with government funding, aka property wars, and plain vanilla looting; but I do not think China is much more efficient in its organizing of the summer games in 2008 (the difference is the harsher punishments).

Congratualtions to Sochi. Condolences to Pyongchang and Salzburg; but Korea and Austria have hosted the Winter Olympics before, Russia has not.

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