While the Russian capital, Moscow, hosted the Olympic Games in 1980, Sochi 2014 will mark the first time that the Winter Games have been held in the world’s largest country – and Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko is among those who are eagerly awaiting the start of the Games.
“I am looking forward to welcoming the world to my hometown and to showing them all that modern Russia has to offer,” he says.
Approximately 2,800 athletes will arrive in Sochi over the next week, ahead of the Opening Ceremony on 7 February.
“We are very excited to be hosting the world and particularly athletes from all around the world, so history will be made,” adds Chernyshenko. “The only thing remaining is the Games themselves, so we are ready to start.”
Athletes and fans will enjoy a unique experience in Sochi – the Games will be extremely compact, and where, for the first time, a purpose-built Olympic Park – referred to as the Coastal Cluster – will be home to all ice competition venues, each within a short stroll of one another.
Each of the venues has been purpose built for the Games, while other large-scale infrastructure projects have seen Sochi transformed since 2005, when the city won the right to stage the Games. Chernyshenko says he is “proud” to see the improvements that have been made to the city as a whole, including upgraded infrastructure, new roads, environmental initiatives and new jobs, as well as the construction of the Olympic venues.
“It is my passion,” he says. “Me and my family, my parents, my friends are so proud and so excited to see how our hometown has changed and how Sochi became the role model, role city, blueprint for the rest of the country to follow.”
Fans attending the Games will also be able to experience the best of Russian culture, with the four-year Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad set to reach its conclusion, offering the best of Russian arts, ballet, music and theatre.
The finale will bring together highlights of the previous four years, with more than 5,000 artists from 70 regions of Russia performing at numerous venues around the two Games centres. Games-time performances will include a ballet gala, throat singing from the Chukchi region in eastern Siberia, lezginka dancing from Dagestan and traditional Kuban Cossack tunes. The Sochi Art Museum will also host an exhibition charting the history of sport in Russia and the favourite sporting pastimes of historical Russian figures.
Visitors to the Olympic Park will also enjoy an extensive entertainment programme, including an exhibition highlighting the cultural diversity, folklore and crafts of various ethnic groups within Russia.
With every element in place, Chernyshenko is looking forward to welcoming athletes and fans from around the world to Sochi for the Russia’s historic first Winter Games.
“Over the past several years, we have worked hard to further develop Sochi and to deliver a warm and passionate Russian welcome for athletes and fans from home and abroad,” he says. “I believe that our efforts will be appreciated by all those attending the Games and, as seeing is believing, I look forward to seeing you in Sochi this February for the experience of a lifetime!”