The construction of snow resorts in Krasnaya Polyana raised concerns over its impacts on the UNESCO World Heritage Site Western Caucasus. Responding to these concerns, the IOC worked with the Organising Committee to revisit the initial placement of some of the venues in the Mountain Cluster, namely the Olympic Village; bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track; a cross-country ski and biathlon complex, and a number of infrastructure facilities.
Other actions were also put in place to mitigate the potential negative impacts on the environment. For example, the length and width of the motorway leading from Krasnaya Polyana to Olympic venues were reduced. This limited the logging activity in the area, minimised adverse impacts on the landscape and reduced the risk of mudflows and landslides. In addition, a network of 3S cableways in Krasnaya Polyana was developed to reduce traffic on the mountain roads during and after the Games.
These decisions took into account the views of the IOC Coordination Commission, recommendations from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNESCO missions, and the opinions of environmental scientists, public environmental organisations and experts from International Sports Federations.
The IOC also supported a UNEP initiative to help those involved in the construction of Olympic venues restore the Mzymta River basin ecosystem. Initiatives were also taken to protect the biodiversity in the region, including the creation of an ornithological park in the Imeretinskaya Valley and environmental corridors to support the Persian leopard programme.
However, environmental impacts related to the construction of Olympic venues still raised concerns, including regarding water pollution, illegal construction dumping, loss of wetlands and deforestation of natural habitats.
International and Russian NGOs continue to mobilise forces to extend the Western Caucasus protected area and to reduce the potential effects of future large-scale tourism infrastructure developments in the region.
Through the IOC’s cooperation with the organisers, the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 were a catalyst for the promotion of sustainability in Russia. A wide range of environmental initiatives were put in place. In March 2013, for instance, Russia’s first national standard for environmental construction came into force, which is a legacy of the Games preparations in Sochi.