Perhaps unsurprisingly, in an era of global belt-tightening and all-round cash-strappiness, the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics finds itself overshadowed by gossip and rumour about the excessive cost of putting on these Games.
From what is known about the declared expense of building stadia, hotels, Ice Domes, a media centre and such like – not to mention railroads, gas pipelines and a suspiciously over-zealous security system – the negative vibe of the worldwide chatter seems largely justified.
Frankly, it’s a joke. In 2007, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that hosting the Games would cost $12 billion. That’s a lot of money already right there. Give E&T $12 billion and we’ll throw you a pretty decent ice party. Free snow cones for all. The final bill for the Sochi Games is estimated to be over $50 billion, which – by anybody’s reckoning – is an awful lot of billions, just to invite some athletes over to your country to slide around a bit in your snow and ice.
The interwebs is already aflame with photos of some athletes’ sub-par accommodation, looking a lot like a university halls of residence bedroom from the late 1980s, so it seems a reasonable supposition to suggest that a decent chunk of that $50 billion didn’t actually get spent on the Games at all and was instead trousered by various local businessmen. Russia isn’t known as one of the most corrupt countries in the world for nothing.
But hey, why quibble over some missing billions? Let’s all kick back, grab an ice-cold vodka and enjoy the bobsleigh ride!
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