Sochi 2014 set to complete long journey from Guatemala
When the Russian resort of Sochi was awarded the right to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Guatemala in 2007, it began a seven-year odyssey for the Organising Committee, which has reached a thrilling conclusion on Friday as the Opening Ceremony finally signaled the start of the Games.
Few outside of Russia had even heard of Sochi before the city was chosen as host ahead of the Republic of Korea's Pyeongchang and Austria's Salzburg at the 119th IOC Session in July 2007, but now the resort – which is more commonly known as a summer destination – is ready to welcome the entire world for 17 days of thrilling winter sports action.
The past seven years have seen organisers construct 11 world-class sporting venues, while also implementing a number of significant infrastructure projects, including new roads, railways and hotels, to transform Sochi into a city ready to host the Games.
"After we received the wonderful news that we are going to be holding the Olympic Games, we received a lot of questions whether we would be able to implement everything that we planned,” explains Dmitry Kozak, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation. “The answer is quite clear. In a very short period of time, we managed to organise such a big investment project and implemented all the obligations.
“Within the six years we managed to build a new, contemporary town of 200,000 people. We had plans before Guatemala but the decision helped us implement this programme and to build this wonderful town of Sochi."
Throughout the entire seven-year journey since Sochi won the bid, the Organising Committee has been able to rely on the support and guidance of the IOC at every step of the way, which played a key role in preparations, according to Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko.
“The IOC and the Coordination Commission have been amazing,” he says. “They have been truly supportive of what we are doing here in Sochi and given us the guidance and advice that we need to make Russia’s first ever Winter Games the best Winter Games in Olympic history.”
Now, all eyes will be on Sochi to see that desire become a reality.