IOC President Thomas Bach yesterday was "unrelentingly upbeat" about the success of the Sochi Games and the nation that hosted them despite the "bumps along the way," according to John Leicester of the AP, who wrote under the header, "The Games Were Expensive, But They Were A Success." Bach said, "It’s amazing what has happened here." SOCOG President & CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko said the Games were a "moment to cherish and pass on to the next generations" (AP, 2/23). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour noted the Games before they started were "burdened by concerns over security, massive cost overruns and infrastructure delays." However, Bach said that he "did not hear a single complaint once the Olympics were underway." He added that the athletes "'loved' their venues and their villages ... particularly how close everything was" (USATODAY.com, 2/23). Bach: "I was always confident our Russian hosts would deliver. I saw the determination" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/22). The AP's Ted Anthony reported Bach during the Closing Ceremony last night "eschewed the wording of predecessors that sometimes tried to assess the overall quality of a particular Olympics." He instead "focused on calling them 'the athletes' games' and spent many words praising" both the region and Russia President Vladimir Putin. Bach said that Russia "came through when it needed to" (AP, 2/24).
USOC PLEASED WITH "SMOOTH" GAMES: In Minneapolis, Rachel Blount cited USOC officials as saying that everything "had run smoothly with the delegation," as there "were no embarrassing incidents with athletes misbehaving, and no problems with security or transportation." USOC Exec Dir Scott Blackmun said, "These have been one of the best-produced, best-organized and most smoothly functioning Games we’ve ever been a part of" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/23). In Detroit, Jeff Seidel wrote the Sochi Games for the most part "came off without a hitch." The venues "were beautiful," and most reports about the Olympic Village "were positive." Everything "was great" if you "don’t count several U.S. failures, in several sports" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/23).
SOCHI'S SUCCESS: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman rated SOCOG as one of the winners of the Sochi Games. Kaufman: "They did it. They pulled it off. Take that, world." There were a "few glitches early on," but "considering the amount of hand-wringing and criticism that went on in the months, weeks and days leading into these Olympics, things went surprisingly well from an organizational standpoint." The venues "were state-of-the-art, buses were on time, and, most important of all, security held up and the Games were terrorism-free" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/23). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote, "Sochi ruled. The venues glistened. The weather cooperated. The security, specifically the Ring of Steel, worked. The transportation was flawless. The housing was decent enough, once they found shower curtains." It was a "solid, sometimes spectacular Games, and most importantly, it was safe" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/23). In N.Y., Juliet Macur writes, "In a lot of ways, these Games were better than Olympics past." The venues, the transportation, the setting and the security were "all winning." Macur: "Sure, soft snow and a few unfinished hotels upset some athletes and visitors, but most of the competitors raved" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes Sochi "was a lovely host." Few host cities "have been under as much pressure going into an Olympics, and none of them produced the way this place did." Sochi "was far from the nightmare it had been scared up to be" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/24). In Philadelphia, Frank Fitzpatrick writes under the header, "Sochi's Games Emerge As A Winner." The Games were "pretty darn good." Fitzpatrick: "No logistical nightmares. No tragedies. No major turmoil" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/24). In London, Ian Chadband writes Sochi "staged an event of extraordinary magnitude and complexity and pulled it off" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/24).
POWER TO THE PEOPLE: In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman writes under the header, "Russians Were Gracious Hosts Of Sochi Games." He notes the people in Sochi are what he will "remember most about this Russian adventure." There were thousands of Russians, most of them "young and vibrant, who have done everything possible to make visitors feel welcome." Wyman: "These were their Games" (WINNIPEG SUN, 2/23). In Boston, John Powers writes under the header, "For Russia, The Games Were A Complete Success." The mood "throughout the Games was relaxed and friendly, helped by thousands of smiling and helpful young volunteers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/24). In Chicago, Stacy St. Clair writes under the header, "At The End, Sochi And Russian People Are Winners." St. Clair writes to the Games' organizers, "You rallied in a way that kept everyone safe and created some indelible memories at your competitions." Your people "worked hard, both to finish construction projects and to ensure your guests felt welcomed." You "became the quintessential underdog and it became easy to root for you" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24). In Boston, David Filipov wrote, "The venues were widely praised, though warm temperatures sometimes made snow conditions iffy." Things "ran smoothly, thanks in part to a vast, English-speaking volunteer force that is still smiling" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/23). The INDIANAPOLIS STAR's Kravitz writes the Sochi Games rank in the "top five" of the 12 Olympics he has covered, joining London ('12), Sydney ('00), Beijing ('08) and Barcelona ('92). He writes, "The volunteers shone with sunny dispositions and passable English. ... We flew away from Russia with a very different sense of what this country is and who these people are" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/24).
SAFE AND SOUND: USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes, "Of all the ways the Sochi Games will be remembered, the most important is this: They were safe." Putin's "'ring of steel' worked," as terrorists "never struck." An Olympics "held in the crosshairs of harm, with terrorists vowing to strike in an extremely troubled part of the world, came off basically without a hitch." That is the "ultimate victory of the Sochi Olympic Games" (USA TODAY, 2/24). ESPN's Jeremy Schaap said, "There was no act of terrorism. Two weeks ago, if you would’ve said that we were going to get through these Games without anything like that happening, people would have said, ‘That in and of itself would make it a success’" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/23). In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic writes, "The highest grade of gold here should go to those who not only kept the Games safe but did so with less apparent intrusion than their predecessors in Vancouver and London" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/24). In Milwaukee, Gary D'Amato wrote, "Most important the Olympic bubble felt safe and secure" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/23). A USA TODAY editorial states the Sochi Games were "great games that are most likely to be remembered for compelling sports, and not for some unfortunate event" (USA TODAY, 2/24).
NO FUN TO BE HAD: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes under the header, "Sochi Olympics Are Nearly Flawless But Devoid Of Joy." There "were no impromptu parties on city streets" in Sochi, because there "were no city streets running through the heavily barricaded Olympic sites." There was "little bonding between Olympic visitors and locals." Plaschke: "It was the All-Business Olympics" (L.A. TIMES, 2/24).