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Postcard

Sochi Is on Track to Be the Most Expensive Olympics in History

Sochi continues its quick transformation into an Olympic hotspot.

The city (population 350,000) is known for its warm summers and mild winters. After the Games finish up, it will be left with a new sports venues, better public transit, and modernized telecommunications and electric power systems. In fact, enough money has been spent so far that it's projected to be the most expensive Olympic games ever. Costs for all the new infrastructure are now estimated at $50 billion. When Russia won the bid in 2007, it was projected to cost $12 billion.

Part of that crazy increase can probably be attributed to corruption. Former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov went so far to say that "the Sochi Olympics are an unprecedented thieves' caper in which representatives of Putin’s government are mixed up along with the oligarchs close to the government." According to the Economist, the most expensive contract, $9 billion for a road that connects seaside venues to the nearby mountains, went to Russian Railways, the state rail monopoly headed by a former KGB general and personal friend of Vladimir Putin.

The 2014 games, which start February 7, 2014, will be the first Olympics hosted in Russia since the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow when it was the capital of the Soviet Union.

Below, via Reuters, a look at construction progress in the city over the last year:
 


The Olympic rings are seen in front of the airport of Sochi, the host city for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 18, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach


Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L), Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg (2L) and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak (R) visit the Apart Hotel complex in Sochi, August 7, 2013. The person pictured second right is the president of RENOVA-StroyGroup Veniamin Golubitsky. (REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool)


A general view shows the construction site of the Olympic athletes village in front of the Olympic Park with the Olympic stadium for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Adler, near Sochi February 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach) 


Completely new built hotel complexes are seen in the ski resort of Rhoas Khutor, a venue for the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics, near Sochi February 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)


A view of a new hotel district at Krasnaya Polyana, a venue for the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics, is seen near Sochi December 9, 2012. (REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski) 


The Iceberg Skating Palace for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, is seen under construction inside the Olympic Park in Adler, near Sochi February 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach) 


A general view of the "RusSki Gorki" Jumping Center is seen at the Krasnaya Polyana resort near the Black Sea city of Sochi, February 6, 2013. The complex is expected to host ski jumping and Nordic combined competitions during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games next February, according to organizers. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin) 


A view of a new railway to Krasnaya Polyana, a venue for the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics, under construction near Sochi December 9, 2012. (REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski) 


A graveyard is seen next to a bridge for the new highway connecting Sochi, the host city for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and the winter sport resort of Krasnaya Polyana, February 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach) 


A view from a helicopter shows the Fisht Olympic Stadium (C) and other Olympic venues under construction for the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi March 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Nina Zotina)


A general view shows the Olympic Village constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, on the edge of the Black Sea in Sochi, August 19, 2013. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics next February. Picture taken August 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski) 


Workmen resurface the ice at the Adler Arena as preparations continue at the Olympic Park for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Adler August 20, 2013. The arena will be used for long track speed skating when the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics opens next February. (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)


Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak look at a model during their visit to venues for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi May 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Pool)


A general view shows construction sites in the valley of Krasnaya Polyana and the new train station (foreground) for the winter sport resort of Rosa Khutor, a venue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics near Sochi February 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)


Visitors walk past uniquely designed bathroom doors inside the Adler speed skating arena, a venue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, at the Olympic Park in Adler, near Sochi February 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach) 


The walls of a toilet are decorated with a mountain panorama wallpaper and skis on the floor at the "Red Fox" restaurant in the winter sport resort of Rosa Khutor, a venue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics near Sochi February 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)


A picture shot through the window of a house that has to be torn down as it is within the perimeters of the Olympic Park shows the Olympic stadium for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Olympic Park in Adler, near Sochi February 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)  


A man walks along a sea wall in front of the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the main arena for ice hockey at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games as construction continues on the Olympic Park in Adler, Russia, August 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

Keywords: Olympics, Russia

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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