“Hot. Cool. Yours.” Simple, neat and straight would be three adjectives to describe the motto of 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics which is being held in Russia. Amid umpteen controversies and contentions, the much awaited 2014 Winter Olympics has been flagged off. Athletes from different parts of the blue planet have gathered together to celebrate the spirit and passion for sports this winter. Let us see some well known facts about 2014 Winter Olympics.
Sochi Winter Olympics is a historical event in every sense of the term. Held once every four years, Winter Olympics is a celebration; a celebration of the unending human spirit and a coming together of the world. Winter Olympics has a history of almost 90 years to relate. This sports gala was kicked off in 1924 in France and in 2014 it has reached Sochi, Russia. The First Winter Games called “International Winter Sports Week” then saw participants from 16 member countries competing in 16 events. Before 1924, the winter sport events like ice skating were included in the Summer Olympics.
The venue of the games is Sochi, in Russia. What makes this venue more significant is the fact that this is for the first time that the divided USSR gets to host this historic multi-sport event. Comfortably decked in between Black Sea and the Caucasian Mountains, Sochi is a summer resort; the perfect place to be this winter. Sochi, also known as ‘Russian Riviera’ was chosen by the Olympic Committee as the site for the games in 2007. The organising committee has done a commendable job in making the Olympic Village in Sochi which will act as Cluster 1 and the mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana will act as Cluster 2, the site for skiing/sliding sports.
This Winter Olympics as Sochi plays the host to athletes from different parts of the globe a leopard, a hare and a polar bear are all set to make their guests happy and safe! Yes, these animals are the official mascots of the XXII Winter Olympics 2014. These mascots were not random choices. Russia is home to a variety of species of leopards, but there is a disappointing fact as well; their population is dwindling. Mountain hares are seen in Russia in huge numbers. One can imagine why this fast little cute animal found its way to the list! Polar bear is very much in the picture as the Winter Games is on, but their inclusion as the mascot acts as a reminder of how they are affected by the climate change that men have managed to bring in, thanks to his cruel insensitive torture of nature. Two other faces that also show in are the ‘Snowflake’ (“Snezhinka”) and ‘Ray of Light’ (“Luchik”).
98 events. 12 new events. 16 days. One Game. Quite unbelievable, isn’t it? 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has become the largest Olympics ever conducted! Of these are three skating sports, six skiing sports, two bobsleigh sports and other sports like hockey. One important highlight of 2014 games is that for the first time in history women’s ski jumping has been added as an event. So when women ski jumpers finally win their due rights, history is being re written. Sports enthusiasts are eagerly waiting to watch the skiers skip and twist through the ice.
Dipped in gold; sorry money. This is how one can best describe 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. With a budget of around $51 billion, the Games have become the costliest Olympics ever conducted. The opposition party in Russia has already come up with reports that show the “ridiculousness” of the government that has spent the huge amount from the treasury. Much of the money has gone into the construction of the sites, new hotels and roads. Or so they say. The Winter Olympics Party too forces one to think otherwise. Has the Olympics turned into a stage for an individual to put up a one man show? Yes, says some.
Sochi Olympics gold medal is unsurprisingly one of the largest in the entire history of the games. It weighs around 531 grams. The design is that of the patchwork quilt which showcases the cultural tradition of the Russian Federation. These medals are made from metals from Russia. The bronze medals are made of eco-friendly alloys of copper and zinc. This design was chosen from the 11 proposed designs. The medal also carries Olympic rings engraved on one side and Sochi Olympics emblem on the other side. Adamas is the official medals producer for Sochi Winter Olympics. The most interesting fact is that each medal is a product of an effort of 18 long hours!
4. Participating countries
88 countries have sent their contingents to 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. 82 countries had participated in the last Olympics. Athletes have arrived from America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania. Five countries have sent their largest ever contingent to Sochi Olympics 2014 – Australia, US, Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada. Of the participating countries, 15 are warm-weather countries. Again, 12 of the 15 warm weather participating members are tropical countries! Though no single athlete from a tropical country has won a medal in any Winter games, the growing interest shown by the countries is laudable. India was banned from participating in the 2014 Olympics earlier.
3. Torch Relay
This is one part of Olympics that has always captured the imagination of the public. This is tradition that is still followed in both Summer and Winter Olympics. 2014 Sochi Olympics has created history when it comes to torch relay too, by presenting the longest ever relay in the history of Winter Olympics. 14,000 torch bearers, 65,000 km, 123 days. These numbers speak for themselves. The relay began on September 29, 2013 from Olympia in Greece. Ioannis Antoniou, the Greek skier got the privilege of being the first torch bearer. The flame is said to have covered almost all of Russia. The torch was also taken into the North Pole, to the highest mountain of Europe and to the depths of Lake Baikal. The torch, designed by Vladimir Pirozhkov and Andrei Vodyanik has a poignant symbolic power.
This Olympics has appeared in the headlines not all for the good reasons. There have been controversies galore. Let us pin them down. Add Putin’s controversial remarks to the protests over the legislation that denies justice to the LGBT community. Then there are environmental concerns regarding the construction of the Olympic Village over the protected zones and the problem of the killing of stray dogs (fondly called “pest control”!). Corruption charges (not to mention the outcry over the “brownish water”) and safety issues add fuel to the fire. Then there is the opposition that the Committee had to face from the Circassians who accuse Russians of committing “genocide”. What remains to be seen is how the Winter Games will sail through smoothly amid all these controversies looming in from all directions.
1. India’s sad story
As far as India is concerned, 2014 Olympics will go down in history as the most disappointing and disgraceful one. Three participants from India will participate in this Olympics as independent contestants – a luger (Shiva Keshavan), an alpine skier (Himanshu Thakur) and a cross country skier (Nadeem Iqbal). India has been barred from participating in Olympic Games, thanks to our corrupt system and flawed election practises. There were also reports on the late distribution of funds for the athletes which forced some of them to withdraw from the Games. It is high time now that India learns the lesson.