Destinations Magazine

The Sochi Olympics: Castles in the Sand

By Stizzard
The Sochi Olympics: Castles in the sand

WITH seven months to go before the 2014 winter Olympics, Sochi is a gigantic construction site. Lorries run up and down dusty roads, excavators turn earth inside out, and 70,000 workers from every corner of the old Soviet Union dig, lift, pull and churn day and night. Imagining the finished venue is hard. “This is where bird lakes are supposed to be,” says Svetlana, a local activist, pointing to a pile of dirt.The whole place resembles nothing so much as a Communist-era construction project. Cost, efficiency, nature and human lives never stood in the way of Soviet rulers who reversed Siberian rivers, built cities in permafrost and planted corn in virgin land—often to ruinous effect. In scale, Sochi 2014 is similar, yet the amount of public money it will cost makes Soviet projects pale in comparison.In many ways Sochi is an odd choice for the winter games. It has a subtropical climate and is one of the very few places in Russia where snow is scarce. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held close to the Black Sea on swampy ground, once infested by malarial mosquitoes. Temperatures there rarely fall below zero. The lower slopes of the Caucasus Mountains are not…

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