What will Sochi's Olympic Legacy look like?

Feb 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Asides

In the run-up to the Games, here the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics caused a stir for all the wrong reasons. International journalists were quick to criticise the country for its rushed attempts at preparing for the event, page sharing images of unfinished hotels and conference rooms and criticising the “shambles” around the site. President Vladimir Putin's recent introduction of a law against 'gay propaganda' proved to be the icing on the cake in securing a negative world view on the games.

Since the sports got going, find attentions have shifted, with praise and attentions focusing on the athletes taking part in the events. But the record $50 billion bill for Sochi will mean that, for the residents in particular, it's the lasting impact of the games that will count.

Big sporting events often do wonders for a local area. London's 2012 Summer Olympics sparked the redevelopment of Stratford as investment poured into East London. There was plenty of criticism of the lack of benefits for the rest of the country, but the local area certainly benefited from the influx of funding in the form of new housing, facilities and, of course, tourism income.

The question for Sochi is whether or not it can do the same. At the moment, it's just not clear what the legacy will be. Some local residents have criticised the way in which the redevelopment of the area has been organised. Alexander Koropov told CNN that his fruit farm's produce has been rotting on the vine due to the pollution from the train line built just 20 yards from his fields that has been carrying construction materials to the sites.

He spoke to the agency's Ivan Watson about the matter: “Every 10 minutes, he says, the high-speed train whizzes past his house, and it drives him crazy.

“Alexander says this was a beautiful place before the Olympics. You can't imagine how many trees were destroyed here to build this.”

However, others have suggested that the improvements in infrastructure (however late they have been) will be useful when it comes to encouraging ongoing tourism in the area. Sochi is a hub in what is known as the 'Russian Riviera' and is popular with Russians in the summer. Meanwhile, the vastly improved ski infrastructure – three high-end resorts in an area that used to have just one 'second-hand' ski lift – is already getting some people excited about future holidays in the area.

Ultimately, it will take time before we can see how the investment pans out for the local economy and the country as a whole. But for now, it's good to see that much of the controversy that took headlines in the months and weeks before the Olympics has been put aside in favour of celebrating the athletes and their achievements.

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