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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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