The Sochi Winter Olympic Games are now in full swing. As you watch our favorite world-class athletes slide, skate, twirl, ride, and ski toward the podium, take a minute to admire the hard work that went into making the games happen, an effort nearly a decade in the making.
Every two years, one city hosts one of the largest events in the world: a summer or winter Olympic Games. Any Olympic Games takes time, money, and a great effort on the part of the host city. The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver cost about $7 billion. This year’s Winter Games in Sochi are expected to cost $50 billion—the most expensive in Olympics history.
By the Numbers
Sochi’s huge price tag isn’t the only big number associated with the Games. Eighty-five countries have sent 6,000 athletes to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and there are 12 new events, including women’s ski jumping and luge relay. Tickets to the opening ceremonies ranged from $180 to a whopping $1,504. Just in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, Russia has packed away 500,000 cubic meters of snow.
An army of workers and volunteers made the 2014 Winter Olympics possible. The 136 new sites for the Olympics were built by 70,000 workers, while 25,000 volunteers will help make the two-week event go smoothly. To keep athletes and spectators safe, 40,000 law enforcement personnel will be on guard, compared to just 16,000 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Nine Years in the Making
Planning for the Sochi Olympic Games started in the summer of 2005, when Russia submitted a bid to host the 2014 games at its seaside resort town of Sochi. The next year, the International Olympic Committee named Sochi as one of its top three finalists, along with Salzburg, Austria, and PyeongChang, South Korea. Another year passed before Sochi won the bid on July 4, 2007.
By 2011, the Olympic Games were starting to become a reality. Three mascots had been chosen to build buzz for the event, including a hare, a snow leopard, and a polar bear. By December 2011, 55,000 people were working on the construction of the Olympic buildings in Sochi.
The Olympic Torch is one of the icons of the Olympic Games. In fall 2013, the Sochi Olympic Torch began its trek over 40,000 miles from Olympia, Greece, through Russia’s 83 regions to Sochi. It even made it to the International Space Station—an Olympic first.
The Sochi Winter Olympic Games opened with pomp on February 7, 2014. Fireworks exploded over the Olympic park, and 3,000 performers took the audience through a history of Russia. Finally, former Russian hockey player Vladislav Tretiak and Russian skater Irina Rodnina lit Olympic cauldron, marking the official opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Any Olympic Games event requires a lot of planning, and the games at Sochi are no different. As you watch the closing ceremonies on February 23, raise your glass or give a round of applause for the thousands of people who invested years of effort to make the Games possible.