The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

Discussion in 'Russian Society' started by Drutten, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Still a few months to go, but this has been a hot topic for years and it's really heating up now as it's drawing near.

    Various naysayers have consistently been saying that these Olympics should be boycotted, that none of the venues will be finished on time, that Sochi/Adler and Rosa Khutor are awful places to host the Winter Olympics for a multitude of reasons, that it's 1936 all over again save for the moustache and that everything will generally go to hell in a number of ways.

    I personally do not have much to add at the moment, but I thought I'd drop a few photos at least. Here are some of the arenas down at the main complex in Adler, as of mid-November:

    Iceberg Skating Palace:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Bolshoy Ice Dome:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Shayba Arena:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Curling Center:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Adler Arena:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And this is not an arena, but it looks good -- the Adler railway station:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And this was a nice touch to the otherwise rather drab Soyuz rockets:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The ensuing spacewalk with the torch was pretty awesome if I may say so myself, too. Back in the Russian Navy thread there are some photos of the torch on the North Pole as well... Carried there by an awesome display of brute force - a massive atomic icebreaker. Oh, Russia.

    Anyway, let discussions commence! What's good about this all, what is bad? Will these Olympics actually end up being the massive PR boost that Russia seems to be aiming for? Will everything come crashing down spectacularly?
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  2. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Here is an article in The Guardian from last month.

    Sochi 2014: the costliest Olympics yet but where has all the money gone?
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2013/oct/09/sochi-2014-olympics-money-corruption

    Some "anti-gay law" stuff, of course. And rampant corruption. And Boris Nemtsov. You get the picture. But to answer the question, where exactly has all the money gone? The Sochi Olympics are slated to become the most expensive Olympic Games in history, so are we really looking at a financial black hole here? Well, I stumbled upon a pretty comprehensive list at a large forum about urban development and architecture:
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p=108918494&postcount=742

    I can't be arsed to put it all down here, but suffice to say that those record breaking 50 billion USD have made quite an imprint on Sochi and its surroundings. We're talking a total overhaul of several major urban settlements, a whole bunch of massive, brand new world-class sports venues, a total overhaul of extant transportation infrastructure, massive new infrastructural and industrial additions, tons of new hotels, a new hospital, new educational facilities, new facilities for the emergency and security services, ridiculously extensive landscaping work, restoration of extant natural areas and yadda yadda.

    And of course, add to that everything peripheral. As the author notes, all of the above are only some of the things that those $50bn were spent on.

    They could as well have paved the roads with gold and caviar. Really Boris?

    I chuckled a bit at a comment in that forum above, "Всё украли и ничего не построили. Все фото в этой теме - либо фотошоп, либо не из России" - all the money was stolen, nothing was ever built and all the photos in this thread are either Photoshopped or simply not from Russia. :D Of course. Now, it's a no-brainer that some money have gone to waste. Either through typical inefficient bureaucracy or simply classic corruption, this has been acknowledged too. But the bleak picture some people like to paint is just exaggerated. Simple as that.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
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  3. john smith

    john smith Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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  4. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Here's another lovely thing.
    [​IMG]

    Now I can't tell if the photographer Pfaffenbach actually had the intention of making things look as bad as humanly possible to make the games look ugly, he might just be a fan of the aesthetics of urban decay (it's a big thing in photography) for all I know, and obviously every city has some areas that look outright depressing so there is no denying about that either.

    But what bugs me is that the Daily Mail among others keep using these photos as standard Sochi stock material, with relaxed captions such as "Centre stage: The Black Sea resort of Sochi is due to host the Winter Olympics in February 2014" (Daily Mail, October 3rd, 2013). Yep, that's the center stage, right there. This is what Sochi is all about folks, a Russian summer resort. :D

    I find it a bit funny and it is far from the only example of this. I will however admit that I might be reading too much into this kind of thing. Or am I? If you actually pop down to the same area (by the harbor in upper Sochi) in Yandex Street View or whatever, things look real fresh and tidy. Odd.

    Other photos that show up in the medias tend to be of areas and buildings that have been closed off awaiting demolition (and thus are severely run down and attractive to various vandals, homeless people etc) and such, lumpen residential areas on the outskirts etc, and they are too consistently presented as "typical" Sochi views.

    I remember the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Lots of nice views for the most part. Some journalists did however stroll into the dark rundown alleys of downtown Eastside, where things look real bad and where it's outright dangerous to be as an outsider, but I don't recall anyone ever calling it representative for the host city/country. No, a spade was a spade. Right.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
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  5. Valeria

    Valeria Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    Will you see the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi, Russia? Have you bought tickets and accommodations yet? Is anybody here going to see it live, or are people too busy, and have other problems to do? I want to see it, but my family disagrees with that decision due to safety issues. One said that an Islamic fanatic will plant a bomb or something. I think that is untrue and things will go well and good.
  6. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    I'll watch it from the comfort of my couch. That way it's easier to keep tabs on everything that's going on, and cheaper to boot. :p Someday I do plan on visiting Sochi regardless.

    I don't think safety's much of an issue. The Caucasus hotspots are further East and both Russian and international security keeps a close eye on it. Furthermore, the closest foreign territory - Abchazia - is decidedly Russia-aligned.

    Also, yesterday it seems like they opened the alpine complex for this season:


    So much for "totally idiotic place to host the winter games as there is no snow" and what not.
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  7. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    The Circassian diaspora has repeatedly called on the Russian Olympic Committee to highlight Circassian culture et cetera, during the games. These calls have been heeded:
    http://kavpolit.com/kultura-cherkesov-budet-predstavlena-na-olimpiade-v-sochi/

    Certain Circassian groups have also supported a boycott, but that particular campaign seems to have resonated badly.

    And Nemtsov is back in the news, of course:
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/ioc-me...-sochi-games-was-lost-to-corruption-1.1633807

    Now, this is quite astonishing. Note that the headline is "IOC member: One-third of Russian spending on Sochi Games was lost to corruption", yet in the article that follows the IOC member in question, Gian Franco, states that the 1/3 figure is merely "what everybody says in Russia" (i.e. what Nemtsov says) and that it is not based on any assessments that he can vouch for.

    He continues by noting that losses are nothing unique to Russia and that his assessment is that the Olympic spending was around $13bn with the rest of the money involved going to much larger things only indirectly linked to the Olympics, such as local infrastructure et cetera (thus rendering Nemtsovs figures for Olympic spenditure loss to corruption void).

    I do not understand why Nemtsov is often considered an authority on the matter. He's been using moot arguments since day one, such as the no snow argument. It's clear that he's engaged in this matter not as a genuinely concerned Russian politician and former Sochi resident, but as something else.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  8. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Here's the infamous "swamp" that was such an ill-suited location for the big sports venues/arenas:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Just plain fields (a big thanks to Panoramio's archives, where you can dig up all sorts of specific location-related things).

    Moreover; Google Earth has a time machine function these days, and voila:
    [​IMG]

    Just plain fields. Also note that the actual swampy area to the left remains untouched.

    The small buildings along the shore in the 2005 imagery look like summer dachas to me, are these the famous evictees? I've seen miles of headlines about how bulldozers (presumably with Putins portrait emblazoned on the sides) suddenly came rolling in and demolished everyones homes, without warning nor compensation. Something (experience) tells me that this likely isn't entirely true.

    Furthermore, I'd like to link to a Karlin post dating a few years back, dissecting Nemtsovs caviar thing in regards to the Adler-Roza Khutor road:
    http://darussophile.com/2010/07/23/red-slope-to-caviar-road/

    As expected, the media has now shifted into high gear spreading various truths, half-truths and non-truths. All jumbled up in a real messy package, with the usual affinity for the latter two. Nemtsov's on TV here in Sweden quite a lot now...



    There is more...
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  9. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Hey everybody! I'm back with another wondrous piece of quality journalism!

    The pictures Putin doesn't want you to see: Photographers capture the poverty and real-life strains of the residents of Sochi in series which has got them barred from the Winter Olympics

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...cal-conflict-zone-BARRED-attending-games.html

    Oh yes! Let's start with the first couple of lines:
    Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen spent 5 years in region photographing ordinary life
    Say Sochi is unlikely spot for Winter Games...because there's no snow
    Photos include portraits of strippers and children holding Kalashnikovs
    Say area is plagued with various problems and that 'There's a big chance terrorists will try to disrupt these Games'


    I don't even know where to begin, this is the most blatantly deceitful article I have seen in a very long time. For starters, it includes photos of places like Dagestan (almost 400 miles away!), of Abkhazia/Georgia (another country altogether), of gun-toting teenagers in that other country that aren't even Russian (what relevance does that have?!) and of various other scenes across the entire Caucasus.

    The few photos actually from Sochi were all taken 5 years ago, and they're all of places that look a lot different now (and of course the photographers made damn sure only to include the most unflattering shots they could snap).

    And of course, there is no snow! Bummer. I better go tell that to the 500,000+ winter tourists that go there every season and that have frequented the area for more than a decade because of its reputedly excellent snow cover. They deserve to know the truth!

    The photos themselves are good, but the narrative presented above is ridiculous. Most of it has no relevance to the Olympics at all, and the little that does is hardly relevant at present.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  10. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I am shocked! You forgot to mention that there are strippers and prostitutes in Sochi! No way a Western Olympic town would have such a filthy business!
  11. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Oh yes, that. :D Funny thing is, I have actually run into more overt drug dealers and prostitutes in Western countries than I ever did in Russia and the baltics. Here in Sweden they're all pretty low-key but if you want to find them, you can. Totally different story in say Germany...

    Now BBC presents the latest scoop. This time it's about a restroom in Sochi, with TWO TOILETS in the SAME ROOM!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25830617
    What does it meaaaaaaaaan? A double toileeeeeeeet! Oh my God...

    ...Then some Russians pointed out that it's not that uncommon a feature in Russia, for whatever reason:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Karlin concurred on his Twitter and added that it might be attributed to an immigrant worker cockup.

    Had this occured anywhere else I'm sure people would just laugh about it and then shrug it off as exactly that, a random and quite humorous cockup. However, as expected it's now become a political thing and everyone from Navalny to LGBT-people are trying to use it as part of their criticism. Hilarious.

    By the way. Here's from a bar in Gothenburg, Sweden:
    [​IMG]

    A club in Stockholm:
    [​IMG]

    I read in some comments to one of the above photos that people had encountered this all over Sweden in public restrooms and such. So not an "only in Russia" after all. ;)

    And here's from a bar in Spain (Magaluf, Mallorca):
    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  12. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Is it time to put some predictions down?

    1. Will the Olympics themselves be terror free? Or will there be one or more major attack?

    2. Will the Olympics be problem free? Or will they be a mess?

    3. If 1 and 2 are positive, will the Western MSM admit it?

    4. Will there be serious attempts to disrupt the Olympics by protests about this or that?


    My predictions.

    1. Terror free but there will be attacks in other parts of the North Caucasus.

    2. Reasonably problem free.

    3. MSM will admit to some surprise but the doom prophesies will be forgotten as if they had never happened. (CF the total lack of follow-up after all the Y2K nonsense).

    4. Some attempts on the homosexual thing but nothing much.
  13. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    BTW on the double toilet thing -- I mentioned it to my wife and her immediate response was that she had often thought that would be a good idea for families. "Your kid's desperate to go and so are you".
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  14. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    I'd say that:

    1. None at the olympic venues themselves, but possibly some half arsed attempt at bombing some roadblock somewhere on the Sochi outskirts. Then of course something will happen in the eastern Caucasus, but when does it not? I'm mostly worried about something further north, like in Moscow.

    It's hard to say what kind of impact such a thing would have on the games and on popular opinion, but seeing that people are now becoming increasingly aware of the situation with the raving mad salafist islamists as opposed to "poor freedom fighters", there has been a slow (at times rather reluctant) shift in sympathies as of late.

    2. No significant issues, but international sports correspondents will occasionally complain about language barriers, unhelpful law enforcement and a clogged faucet somewhere. As things are progressing, the required bad spin on everything will be forced to recede into absurd banalities and seeing where it's heading they will then silently drop it, never to mention it again.

    3. No, they'll stay neutral at best. Later, when the fairly good impressions the games made on people have accumulated some dust in our fast-paced world, they will in a last ditch effort try to conjure up and cement a final, negative narrative by once again going all tabloid about it, with re-runs of various old stories and negative spins on certain key features. It's difficult to say if that will be successful.

    4. Surely, but they will fall flat. Think about the IAAF World Championship in Moscow last summer, nobody gave a damn about neither subtle nor overt "protests", well, until one of Russias own athletes raised her voice and said it was all pretty childish.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  15. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Oh, I noticed that while I did post a whole lot of photos relating to the big arenas down in Sochi/Adler, I haven't posted much from the skiing venues. So here goes.

    Ski jumping:
    [​IMG]

    Lifts and stuff:
    [​IMG]


    Some slopes and stuff:
    [​IMG]

    Cross-country skiing stadium:
    [​IMG]

    Snowboard/freestyle pistes, I think?
    [​IMG]


    Ditto:
    [​IMG]

    Part of the alpine hills I think:
    [​IMG]

    Mountain venues media center:
    [​IMG]

    Some more facilities up there:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Gorki Gorod part of Krasnaya Polyana:
    [​IMG]

    How can you possibly even think about skiing there, let alone choose the site to host the Winter Olympics?! There is no snow! Not a flake as far as the eye can see!
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
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  16. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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    Terrorists will probably attack an easy target far from the games. All the media will be focused on this, so they don't need to hit the games directly to have a major impact.

    Mostly problem free, but whatever problems arise will be trumpeted for years and years.

    Never!

    This will be like a parallel Olympics with everyone fighting for the gold of media attention. I have no idea of who will be the winner.
  17. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    It seems that my showcasing of other double-toilet bathroom stalls in Russia and elsewhere on the planet was completely redundant, in fact. Turns out it was not a deliberate construction feature or some kind of accidental mistake after all, but quite possibly an outright BBC lie!

    Let's review the BBC photo once again, shall we?
    [​IMG]

    Note the faint mark on the wall in between. That's where the dividing wall was before it was removed. Here's from a restroom on the floor just above, with an identical plan and identical accessoires (but different tiling):
    [​IMG]

    The organisers requested the bathrooms on one floor in the building to be turned into temporary storage rooms and as such, wanted the dividing walls, the toilet seats etc to be removed. The BBC journalist showed up right when they had gotten rid of the wall and snapped his photo.

    Shortly afterwards, the toilets themselves and one of the dispensers had been removed and some drawers had been thrown in that same room:
    [​IMG]

    More junk in the bathrooms on the same floor:
    [​IMG]

    Oh well. Scratch what I said about journalists eventually refraining from the absurd. I was naive to believe that.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  18. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Navalniy's exposure of the corruption report is here.

    http://sochi.fbk.info/en/

    I'm not very impressed. He agrees with Putin that the Olympic facilities, narrowly defined, cost US$6-7 billion. He thinks a road-rail connection of 50 km in difficult terrain up the mountains is grossly excessive at US$9 billion. (Looking at the route on Google Maps it’s certainly not going to be done cheaply -- lots of big-time engineering). He mentions a couple of occasions in which people have been arrested for corruption. Various contractors are said to be Putin’s “friends”.

    Look rather like something thrown together at the last moment because he's been challenged to put up.
  19. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    For your amusement.
    Ring o'Steel, USA version.

    Super Bowl XLVIII has been declared a level one national security event. Part of that security is to examine every item that is being brought in for Sunday's big game.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will work around the clock to X-ray every delivery truck and any other vehicle authorized to enter the MetLife Stadium complex for anything suspicious.

    Agents will be looking for smugglers, narcotics, terror activity, and more potential threats.


    Read more: http://www.myfoxny.com/story/24558340/federal-security-forces-at-the-super-bowl#ixzz2rjEMGJft
  20. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    What a lovely thing, everyone is in agreement, from Navalny to Putin and the IOC themselves.

    http://en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20140204...nt-Count-as-Olympic-Costs--IOC-President.html

    Now we're only waiting for you, Nemtsov. ;-)

    You know, I think that the most interesting thing about this all is the corruption. Well, the lack thereof, to be precise... There literally seems to be no trace of the rampant high-level corruption that has been repeated as an obvious truth for years. Not a sign! All we got is some petty embezzlements here and there, i.e. various small time contractors messing about on ground level, which is typical for any country really.

    That explains the sudden focus in the medias on things such as stray dog cullings and double toilets. I'm positively sick of the toilets so I will refrain from again commenting on the matter. As far as the dogs go though, this happens everywhere in the world where there are significant amounts of stray dogs and where the abundance of dogs far outstrips general demand (thus making humane relocation outright impossible). Indeed, it was the case in the US as well until quite recently:
    And indeed, you see this in many other places today. It is regrettable, but people must face the hard facts instead of jumping onto the emotional bandwagon. If they are truly so concerned, they should fund sanctuaries or some such. I don't see how that's even feasible to be honest, let alone on the initiative by the regional council.

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