Sochi Olympics to raise Russia’s credibility in international arena
22 January 2014. PenzaNews. The first ever Russian Winter Olympic Games will start in Sochi on 7 February 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that this sporting event will serve to bring nations together and to promote friendship, trust and the spirit of partnership the world over.
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“We expect over 6,000 athletes from 85 countries and hundreds of thousands of fans to attend the Games. We are doing everything to turn this event into a great festival of sports not only for this country, but also for sports fans all over the world. […] For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games all participants will be able to visit Russia without entry visas; they will only need to be accredited for the games. Our missions in different countries have opened special Olympic Offices to process such applications as a matter of priority. The Games will certainly be held in full compliance with the Olympic Charter – with no discrimination of any kind. Russians will undoubtedly support their own athletes, but we wish success to all participants. We always appreciate the success of athletes from any country and are happy for them,” Russian President said at the ceremony of presentation by foreign ambassadors of their letters of credence in the Kremlin.
Speaking about the Olympic Games in Sochi, Vladislav Krasnov (W. George Krasnow), president of Russia and America Goodwill Association (RAGA), noted that this event will show the world a new face of Russia.
“Vladimir Putin has made a good claim. The successful staging of the Olympic Games will be a huge achievement, and the fact that they are held in Sochi will put the Caucasus on the map of international sports and tourism,” he said in an interview with news agency “PenzaNews.”
However, in his opinion, long-term positive effect is only possible through increased tourism interest not only in the Caucasus but in Russia as a whole, and this potential is used poorly.
“This event will have a positive impact on the development of winter sports in the Russian Federation. Olympic ski resorts and other facilities, infrastructure, transport system should not be unused. But nothing will happen automatically: Russia needs to develop domestic tourism,” the analyst said.
From his point of view, preservation and development of competitive instinct of Russians should encourage the intellectual elite of the country to get Russia stronger and more confident on the cultural, economic, ideological and political arena of the competitive life.
“The world expects from Russia more than oil and gas,” the expert stressed.
He also suggested the need to strengthen peacekeeping tradition of the Olympics.
“In ancient Greece, all military activity and conflicts were postponed until the Games were finished. Russia should become the guardian of this tradition. Vladimir Putin was right to say that any attempt of terrorist attack would not benefit its organizers and sponsors. Terrorist acts are often committed by “Islamists” but have no basis in the Quran. During the Olympics – the world festival of strength, beauty and referee justice – such attacks are blasphemous. We must call on all countries to cease hostilities for the period of the Games in the hope that the two weeks lull will serve as a prologue to the peaceful resolution of conflicts,” Vladislav Krasnov explained.
Xu Jin, Research Fellow at Institute of World Economics and Politics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that due to the Olympics Russia’s international image will be improved a lot in one or two years.
“Based on the experience of Beijing Olympic Games, the country will get positive international image, and it is also a good platform for the diplomacy and public diplomacy,” the Chinese analyst said.
According to him, it will also have positive results on tourism if the host city has enough resources of tourism and boarding.
“As to the economic impact, the host city will improve its infrastructure, attract a large amount of investments and tourists,” Xu Jin added.
In turn, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor in chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, expressed doubt about the positive economic impact of the Olympics.
“This is a very costly event, feasibility of construction of such a large number of objects in Sochi is not clear for the future. It may happen that at least part of the infrastructure would not be used later, or it will be difficult to use it effectively. Otherwise the country will have to implement some special policies to turn Sochi into a major tourist and sports center, which requires effort and money,” the expert explained.
At the same time, he called hosting the Olympic Games prestigious and honorable, whatever innuendoes emerge.
“Sochi Olympics will go down in Russian history as a great event, but will hardly be a turning point,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the Games will be held at the highest organizational level.
“This will once again prove the ability of Russia to conduct the biggest events. Political squabbles accompanying the Games will be forgotten. All attempts to politicize sport usually play against those who try to do it. But we should not expect the miraculous improvement of Russia’s image in the world either,” Fyodor Lukyanov noted.
In turn, Stefan Meister, Senior Policy Fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations in
Berlin, said that the Olympic Games might bring a gain on prestige and interest on Russia for a short period of time.
“At the moment it has mainly a negative impact, because of the environment and the overall human rights situation in Russia. European and international public interpret the games mainly as PR instrument of Vladimir Putin, to give the country a better image. But anyway, if everything works well, it shows, that Russia is not the fragile and limited developed country with an outdated infrastructure but is also able to organize very complex Olympic Games,” the German expert said.
However, in his opinion, it will not have positive economic impact.
“It will bring for sure many people and tourists to the region during the games which will have an economic benefit. But if you compare, what the games have cost the Russian tax payer and what it will bring for economic benefits to the country, I see it rather negative. There will be not after the games much more tourists than before and the new stadiums, hotels and infrastructure will not be used to work cost efficient,” the analyst said.
According to him, the Olympic Games will have limited effects on the development of Russian tourism as there will not be a boom of tourism after the Games.
“For the time of the Games, sure, it will have a positive effect; the world will look to Sochi and see, how beautiful the landscape is, many people will travel to Russia, who have never been before there. But this effect will not last long, because Sochi competes with other places, which have better image and a better security situation,” Stefan Meister noted.
In turn, Alexandre Latsa, the expert on geopolitics, French blogger who lives in Moscow, suggested that the popularity of Russian resort area with a mild southern climate will increase after the Olympic Games.
“Instability is growing in the Muslim world which may lead to the fact that many foreign and Russian tourists will choose safe destinations such as the north of the Mediterranean or the Black Sea in Russia,” he explained.
Moreover, in his opinion, the location of Sochi and new infrastructure are two important components the combination of which should be beneficial for the development of sports in Russia.
“The Olympic project that involves large-scale infrastructure development is a kind of a challenge to the world community. Many countries could not afford it, so the Games provoke a lot of envy,” the French analyst added.
In his opinion, this event can play an important role in raising the international prestige of Russia.
“Since the beginning of 2014 Moscow has tense relationship with the West after numerous disagreements on social issues. Russia is also an important actor in Syrian issue, and we understand that the terrorist threat is high. If Russia avoids a terrorist attack, the country will significantly strengthen its position in the international arena by the end of the Olympics,” Alexandre Latsa explained.
Edward Lozansky, President and Founder of the American University in Moscow, shared the view that this event will positively affect the development of several areas.
“Given the huge investments in the infrastructure of the region, Sochi, under good administration, can become a unique tourist destination for both summer and winter holidays,” he said, noting that PR is highly needed to compete with European resorts.
“Sochi Olympic sites will become additional training centers and grounds for various competitions, so athletes will get new opportunities,” the expert added.
According to him, the Olympic Games are not only grand sport event, but an indicator of the significant changes for the better, which have occurred in the country over the past two decades.
“Unfortunately, the world’s attitude toward Russia has changed little since the Soviet era. Media still uses the stereotypes of the Cold War without neglecting to stress “omnipresent KGB” or “Dictator Putin.” Recently, there is too much black PR, predictions of new terrorist attacks and calls for a boycott of the Olympics by anti-Russian lobby in the West. It should be noted that in pursuit of sensationalism, Russian press also adds negative information in this muddy stream,” Edward Lozansky noted.
According to him, the Sochi Olympics will show the face of new Russia, freed from the communist past.
“In my opinion, the Russian Federation made a giant leap forward in a relatively short period of time. Of course, the country still has some shortcomings of democratic development, which is quite natural, but in general it is no exaggeration to say that today’s Russia is not much different from other European countries,” the analyst concluded.
The XXII Olympic Winter Games are scheduled to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
Sochi was selected as the host city in July 2007, during the 119th IOC Session held in Guatemala City.
The USSR was the host nation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
The opening ceremony of the Winter Games will begin at the Olympic stadium Fischt at 20.14 Moscow time, that will symbolize the year of the Olympic Games in Sochi.
98 events in 15 winter sport disciplines will be held.
According to official data, around 214 billion rubles were invested into the preparations; investment costs for the construction were more than 99 billion rubles, and 114 billion rubles is off-budget investment. There are no facts of misuse of funds in the construction of Olympic venues.