March 01, 2013

Countdown to Sochi

One year before the Winter Olympic Games open in Sochi, officials have admitted that the cost of preparations have spiked again, to R1.5 trillion, or $50 billion. This figure is roughly seven times the original estimate made in 2007, and likely will make Sochi the most expensive Olympic Games in history – even though Winter Games are usually far cheaper than Summer Games. The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, cost less than $2 billion.

Sochi may be Russia’s hope for returning to “winter time” during winter, moving it closer to Europe by one hour. IOC official Jean-Claude Killy sent a letter to Dmitry Kozak, the Russian minister responsible for the Sochi Games, saying that Russia needs to decide soon whether or not it will make the time switch, after months of uncertainty. TV stations need to know well in advance when the competitions will be broadcast. While the current three-hour difference with Paris would inconvenience European television viewers, Russia’s reversion to winter time would make the time difference greater for Asian countries.

Sochi residents have picked a local version of Paul the Octopus, who retired recently after correctly predicting outcomes to dozens of sports events. The otter, christened Ashley, was rescued from poachers by tourists and is now recovering in the Sochi Oceanarium, where she awaits her forecasting duties.

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