- 12 Nov 2019
- Sochi 2014 Legacy
Sochi 2014: from the beach to the mountains
Prior to the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, Sochi was a summer resort on the Black Sea sitting at the base of the Caucasus mountains, with no winter sports tradition. Hosting the Olympic Winter Games was an opportunity for Russia to take advantage of the nearby mountains, regenerate the seaside resort and develop the costal and mountain areas as a year-round tourist destination. Educational and social projects were also at the heart of the Sochi 2014 legacy vision.
Controversies around the cost of the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 prevail, mainly due to a number of figures circulating in the media. These figures are often hugely inflated and amount to as much as tens of billions of US dollars. However, they incorporate larger development projects taking place in the region at the time, including the redesign of the transport system and urban infrastructure. These projects were not required for the hosting of the Games. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by the IOC, the actual investment into sport venues and Olympic Games operations was around USD 12 billion.
Three venues at the Olympic Park in Sochi have been re-purposed to host an educational programme called the Sirius Academy. The Academy identifies children aged 10 to 17 who have shown an aptitude for natural sciences, arts, sports or technical creativity and provides them with advanced education to further develop their talent. The Sirius Academy receives 600 children from all parts of Russia each month, all year round.
Additionally, the Russian International Olympic University was created in Sochi in 2009, providing education to former Russian athletes and international students. It teaches a master’s degree course in sports management and produces academic research about the Olympic Movement and the sports industry.
All of the 12 sports venues built for the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 remain in use, serving multiple purposes that include sport, culture, education, tourism and entertainment.
The venues are grouped in two clusters: the Coastal Cluster located in the Imeretinskaya Valley on the Black Sea coast, and the Mountain Cluster situated near the village of Krasnaya Polyana.
In both clusters, Olympic venues continue to benefit the region. For example, the Fisht Stadium, host to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, serves as a training centre for the Russian national football team. It has hosted FIFA tournaments, notably the Confederations Cup in 2017 and World Cup matches in 2018. In 2015, the Shayba Arena, which hosted ice hockey competitions during the Games, was transformed into the Sirius Academy – an education centre that offers talented children from Russia opportunities to develop in the fields of sport, science and arts. The Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, Russia’s largest ski domain, hosted the FIS Junior World Ski Championship in 2016. In the same year, it received almost two million visitors, nearly 600,000 more than in the previous year. Post-Games, the Olympic Park attracted a new investment project in the form of the Sochi Autodrom, an automobile racing track. Since 2014, the F1 Russian Grand Prix and the Russian Grand Prix series have been staged there annually.
Infrastructure improvements were part of the long-term plan for regional development, which was accelerated by the hosting of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. They included a new airport, railway upgrades, as well as the development of roads, telecommunications, energy and accommodation. These developments took into consideration the predicted growth of the region, rather than catering solely for the specific needs of the Games.
Thanks to the hosting of the Paralympic Winter Games, Sochi became one of the first Russian cities to successfully implement the barrier-free environment programme. The programme aims to allow all people – including those with reduced mobility and the elderly – to move more freely and independently around the city. As a result, more than 1,400 public sport, educational, cultural and tourism facilities in the city fulfil the requirements of accessibility and/or universal design.
Tourism and regional development
Four years after the Olympic Winter Games, the costal and mountain areas around Sochi integrate a tourism complex that unites the facilities built for the Olympic Games with the city’s historical centre and the traditional tourist routes. Between 2009 and 2014, a major transformation of tourism infrastructure took place, including the construction of three-, four- and five-star hotels and the upgrade of several well-being resorts. Between 2014 and 2018, these resorts contributed to 13 to 13.5 per cent of the regional economy, compared to 6 to 7 per cent before the Games. From 2015 to 2018, Sochi hosted a total of 1,071 sporting and non-sporting events.