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SBD Global/August 12, 2013/Olympics

Construction For Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Leaves Some Residents Displaced

In preparation for the 2014 Winter Games, "Sochi resembles a construction site," according to Charles Clover of  the FINANCIAL TIMES. The government has poured $51B into transforming the Soviet-era beach town into a resort city of the 21st century "with five-star hotels, new roads and a high-speed train line." While the Games will help create jobs in the area, "many residents who initially cheered the games have long since given in to resentment about the conditions they are living in." A Sochi taxi driver said, "We've been breathing this dust for five years, sitting in these unbearable traffic jams for five years." The city of more than 350,000 inhabitants has spent more than Rbs 21B ($640M) on "relocating residents to new homes after the start of large-scale construction." But new money seems scarce "and problems have not gone away as the construction enters its most intensive phase." According to Human Rights Watch, about 2,000 families "have been displaced in preparation for the Olympics." While most were compensated and given new homes, "some residents who have seen their homes devastated have not" (FT, 8/11).
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