Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Headline Places - Sochi Winter Olympics

Location: Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia

Sochi recently garnered international attention for being the host of XXII Winter Olympic Games as well as XI Paralympic Winter Games this year (2014), although infamous and revealing photos of hastily set up resorts and Olympic villages in their sad state were much more memorable. Early images tweeted by journalists revealed confounding toilet configurations and doubtful water quality, imparting a disastrous preparation by the city for the Winter Olympics running from 7 - 23 February 2014.

With the location being one of the host cities of 2018 FIFA World Cup and Russian F1 Grand Prix from 2014 to at least 2020, they would have to do better in improving their facilities to leave a positive image with every departing visitor.

Question: Where is Sochi in Russia?

Two toilet bowls lying side by side in Sochi, one of the most viral image from Sochi's Winter Olympic woes (image from The Guardian).

Sochi is geographically unique in Russia, being one of the southernmost locations in the vast country, close to the border of Georgia and sharing the Black Sea with neighboring East European nations. Whether it is considered in Europe or Asia depended on the method of dividing Europe from Asia - if the Caucasus Mountains are used as a divider, then it lies in Southwest Asia, but if the Ural Mountains are used, which is how it is done geographically, then it falls within the European Russian area.

Main stadium of Sochi Winter Olympics, Fisht Olympic Stadium (image taken from Bustler.net).

The resort city left its own mark in history as well, with its unique geographical location allowing it to witness the signing of many treatises, especially those between Georgia, separatist Abkhazian and separatist south Ossetian. Under Joseph Stalin's watch, the city became a trendy resort area, with his favorite dacha built within. Continuous development until the end of the Soviet era filled Sochi with grand Neoclassical buildings.

It regained the limelight as Russia's unofficial summer capital after most resorts in Crimean peninsula was transferred to Ukrainian SSR, receiving investment under Vladimir Putin's term of office for further development. Even with the allocation, viral images of Sochi's bad state circulated in the Internet before the commencement of the XXII Winter Olympics, affecting the city's image in the international community, especially when it is going to be one of the host cities of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Lea Lemare of France during the Ladies' Normal Hill Individual trial on day 5 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center (image and caption taken from Sochi Winter Olympics official website).








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