The success of Sochi 2014 surpassed the expectations of even Russia, despite international attempts to sabotage it, claimed President Vladimir Putin today.
“We have achieved everything that we wanted to achieve in the preparation and the organisation of the Olympics,” Putin said during his annual news end-of-year conference at the Kremlin in Moscow.”
Sochi 2014 was widely considered the most successful Winter Olympics since Lillehammer in 1994.
A mood of euphoria swept Russia as the country’s athletes finished top of the medals table in both the Olympics and Paralympics.
“We have achieved even more that we dreamed about – we won the Olympics and for this we heartily thank our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, who were the real heroes of the Games,” said Putin.
But the build-up to the Winter Olympics was overshadowed by international protests over Russia’s controversial new anti-gay law, while the Paralympics coincided with the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
But Putin claimed Russia’s rivals – who he did not name – used it as an opportunity to try to undermine preparations for Sochi.
“On any issue, no matter what we do, we always run into challenges, objections and opposition,” he said.
Sochi cost a reported $51 billion £26 billion/€32 billion) to stage but Putin claims that the cost has been worth it because it has provided Russia with a brand new world-class ski resort, as well as somewhere to host major events.
Since the end of the Olympics and Paralympics the city on the shores of the Black Sea has staged a Formula One Grand Prix and next April will host the SportAccord Convention, which is expected to attract more than 7,500 delegates.
“I am sure that everything has been booked out there by the end of the mountain skiing season and there are simply no vacancies already,” Putin said.
“It proves that we, people of Russia, now have a new year-round recreation centre both for summer and winter seasons.”