How was Sochi chosen in the first place?

February 10, 2014

When the summer Olympics wrapped up in Atlanta in 1996, Juan Antonio Samaranch, then the president of the International Olympic Committee, declared that the Atlanta experience was “most exceptional.”

That, more or less, would sound like a compliment in most circumstances. But because Samaranch was in the habit of declaring whatever Olympics had just ended as the “best Olympics ever,” it was inferred that Samaranch was not entirely taken with the “city too busy to hate” and, in fact, may have been busy hating it the whole time.

Samaranch stepped down from his Olympics post in 2001 and died in 2010, so there’s no telling what he would have made of the winter games happening in Sochi, Russia, right now. For many athletes and fans, the site indeed proved to be “most exceptional.”

Some competitors told their families to stay away, in part due to terrorism concerns. Journalists and some fans who were lucky enough to get rooms have taken to social media to complain about the quality of them. One American athlete had to smash through a bathroom door when he was accidentally locked inside. Other reports indicate the resort town on the Black Sea is plagued by stray dogs and open manholes.

“Communism is dead in Russia,” Mark Kiszla wrote for The Denver Post. “But a large, sticky pile of bureaucratic red tape remains for Olympic tourists, whether the goal is to obtain something as essential as a visa or as simple as a spare key to a hotel room.”

Of all the places in the world with an abundance of snow, how exactly was a place that one website called “a godforsaken hellscape” chosen in the first place?



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