Success of Sochi 2014 lives on
One year on from the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014, the success of the “Athletes’ Games” is still being felt throughout the Olympic Movement. From spectacular sporting moments and record broadcast figures, to thrilling new events and lasting Olympic legacies, the positive impact of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games cannot be overstated.
As IOC President Thomas Bach said in his speech at the Closing Ceremony, after 17 days of exceptional Olympic action: “There is no higher compliment than to say on behalf of all participants and on behalf of all of my fellow Olympic athletes: these were the Athletes’ Games.”
And the athletes were certainly the stars of the show, as they captivated Olympic fans around the world with a series of historic achievements and record-breaking performances in Sochi’s glittering array of venues. Among the highlights were Germany’s Carina Vogt soaring down the RusSki Gorki hill to become the first-ever Olympic champion in women’s ski jumping; Norway’s Ole Einar Bjørndalen winning the 12th and 13th Olympic medals of his career to become the most decorated Winter Olympian in history; and Alpine skiers Tina Maze, of Slovenia, and Dominique Gisin, of Switzerland, sharing a momentous gold in the women’s downhill.
Carina Vogt of Germany wins the gold medal during the Ski Jumping Women's Normal Hill at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center. ©Getty
The Dutch speed skaters also proved their dominance in the Adler Arena, winning eight out of the 12 events contested, while Darya Domracheva, of Belarus, eclipsed her rivals to win three biathlon gold medals and Canada claimed a unique double by winning the men’s and women’s events in both curling and ice hockey.
Jan Blokhuijsen, Koen Verweij and Sven Kramer of the Netherland compete during the Men's Team Pursuit Final A Speed Skating event. ©Getty
In total, athletes from a record 88 National Olympic Committees competed in Sochi, with seven NOCs – Dominica, Malta, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe – making their first appearances at the Winter Games.
Sochi 2014 also marked the debut of 12 new Olympic events, with the figure skating team competition, biathlon mixed relay, mixed luge team relay, ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, snowboard parallel slalom and women’s ski jumping all being held for the first time at a Winter Games. Alongside the traditional winter disciplines, these exciting new events helped enthral a global audience of billions, with record worldwide coverage on both TV and digital platforms. In total, 114,000 hours of Sochi 2014 coverage was broadcast around the world – far exceeding the 57,000 hours that were shown of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – with an actual audience of 2.1 billion.
The Games were also broadcast by a record number of TV channels (412 channels compared to 240 for Vancouver), while 230 dedicated digital channels – including 155 websites and 75 apps – also carried Olympic coverage. In a watershed moment for Olympic broadcasting, the amount of digital coverage available also exceeded that of traditional television broadcasts for the first time ever. The increasing use of digital platforms by Olympic fans was evident throughout the Games as well, with record global engagement on the IOC’s website, Olympic.org, which received over 14 million site visits, including more visitors in the first two days of Sochi 2014 than during the entire Vancouver 2010 Games. Olympic fans also broke records on social media, with more than two billion impressions across all Olympic platforms – more than any previous Olympic Games.
And while a year has passed since Sochi 2014 lit up the sporting world, the legacy provided by the Olympic venues has ensured that the host region continues to stage elite-level sport, including the inaugural Formula One Russian Grand Prix and Kontinental Hockey League matches, as well as upcoming events such as the the 2015 FIL European Luge Championships, the 2016 FIA Alpine Junior World Skiing Championships, the 2017 FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Olympic Winter Games has also provided a tourism boost for the host city, with visitors to Sochi up 28 per cent year-on-year last year and the ski resorts used for the Games welcoming large numbers of visitors, as fans flock to the Russian resort to follow in the footsteps of their Olympic heroes and relive the spectacular memories of the unforgettable “Athletes’ Games”.©Getty