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Errors Aside, Sochi Seen as a Success

Published: February 26, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, spoke about the unifying power of the Games at the closing ceremony on Feb. 7.
    Photo: Ramil Sitdikov / RIA NOVOSTI

SOCHI As President Vladimir Putin declared the 2014 Winter Olympics closed on Sunday, the International Olympic Committees president said the Sochi Games had proven critics wrong and praised the Russian presidents handling of the event.

We saw excellent Games and what counts most is the opinions of the athletes, and they were enormously satisfied, Thomas Bach said.

Concerns over possible terrorist attacks, botched facilities, unfinished hotels and human rights seemed all but forgotten as soon as the Games kicked off with a lavish opening ceremony and proceeded smoothly, with athletes unanimously expressing satisfaction.

But by the end of the Olympics, several incidents threatened to put Russias newly polished image to the test, with political turmoil in neighboring Ukraine and an embarrassing video of security officers beating Pussy Riot members in Sochi at risk of overshadowing the Games success.

Just as Russia achieved the impressive feat of topping the Olympic total and gold medal count showing the best result the country has had during all Winter Olympics Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted amid violence and chaos in nearby Kiev. The images of a nervous and confused Yanukovych addressing the nation in a video in which he refused to recognize the parliament that had just voted to impeach him stood in stark contrast with the image of him cheerfully waving the Ukrainian flag weeks earlier at the opening ceremony in Sochi.

The turbulent power reshuffle in Ukraine prompted speculation about how it would reflect on Russia, with some saying Yanukovychs removal could prove embarrassing for Moscow.

Russia faced a sporting disappointment earlier on, when the national mens hockey team failed to win, continuing the losing streak that has plagued Russias signature sport for decades.

Three-time Olympic champion and legendary goaltender Vladislav Tretiak said he was sad the Olympics were wrapping up, but he did not think the hockey defeat was the end of the world.

I hope that after the end of the Games, all sports facilities in Sochi will be used and will serve our people, and we can still win in hockey one day in the future, he said, walking along the seaside in central Sochi.

Visitors to the Games seemed equally wistful that the festivities were over, but most said it was an experience that they would not forget any time soon.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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