Published January 27, 2014
Workers construct a concession stand at Olympic Park in Sochi on Saturday.
With 12 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olymipcs, Russia "is rushing to put the finishing touches on what is arguably its biggest project since the Soviet era," according to Courtney Weaver of the FINANCIAL TIMES. To economists, Sochi "has become a metaphor for broader problems in Russia’s economy, with its vast reserve of petrodollars often dedicated to over-budget prestige projects at the expense of less glamorous but more urgent priorities, such as infrastructure." While many have doubted whether President Vladimir Putin would be able to pull off Sochi’s transformation from an aging Soviet-era resort town to a glistening 21st century metropolis, the president "appears to have dodged the biggest concern -- that it would not be ready in time." The ski jump venue "is ready to welcome visitors," 12 months after Putin said that the project "was six times over budget and a year behind schedule and sacked the project’s main shareholder, Akhmed Bilalov, on the spot." While Krasnaya Polyana has the look of an idyllic, well-established Swiss ski resort, "the picture is less rosy" 45km down the mountain in the main Olympic Park where the indoor events and Opening and Closing Ceremonies will take place. The site "still bears a disturbing resemblance to a mid- to late-stage construction project." The task at hand is "so seemingly gargantuan" that for 12 days it could "defeat the most veteran contractor or party planner" (FT, 1/26