Sochi Prepares For 2014 Olympic Games With Biggest Construction Site In The World

Sochi 2014 Olympic ConstructionConstruction workers are busy at the building site of the Bolshoi Ice Palace in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia.

Photo: AP Photo/Igor Yakunin

Last week, I had the chance to attend the Global Sports Forum in Barcelona, where many different global sports business topics were discussed over three days. In particular, we heard from not one but two Presidents of Olympic host city organising committees, Dmitry Chernyshenko from Sochi 2014 and Carlos Nuzman from Rio 2016.With a limited amount of time per panel, there are only so many topics you can really dig into, but the discussion included mascots, logos, planning, transportation, the bid process, security, environment, social media and legacy. Here are some of their insights that I wanted to share (note: these aren’t exact quotes, they are recaps of their statements).

Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Host Committee:

On new media:  

  • He’s very active on Twitter (@DChernyshenko) and Facebook, both personally and on behalf of Sochi 2014.
  • The power of new media is the speed of distributing information. It’s the most powerful communication channel, especially with their focus on youth.

On legacy and impact:

  • The Games will go a long way to improve the environment. Green standards are being used for all new venue construction. They want to be as carbon-neutral as possible throughout the construction and the Games. There is also a lift for the Sochi national parks, which in turn will help save the snow leopard (being used as one of the mascots as well).
  • The IOC measures a lot. There are 111 different social, economic and environment measurement points measured to show improvement. They are already showing positive results for the environment, disabled access and their volunteer program. This builds a legacy for the city and the country.

On planning and accessibility:

  • They literally started from nothing, a “blank canvas” which was a big advantage allowing them to build an infrastructure. They are the biggest construction site in the world and have over 42,000 workers involved.
  • Sochi will be a barrier free environment, building full access for disabled individuals. They are committed to changing the public attitude about disabilities, and want to establish best practices to become a model city.

On corruption and security:

  • There is an image of corruption in Russia, but the Sochi project is very transparent and wants to act as an anti-corruption model for other projects.
  • You can never completely stop terrorism, but the authorities are doing everything possible. There are 100 different nationalities living in this area in peace. Sochi “will be” the safest place ever for the Olympics.

Carlos Nuzman, President of the Rio 2016 Host Committee:

On the geographical design:

  • They are using a four cluster plan, deciding not to concentrate all venues in one area of the city. The games needed to go to all areas of the city and the legacy needed to reach all people throughout the city.

On transportation and security:

  • The biggest challenge for any bidding city is transportation, because 300,000 people come to your city. Rio is building multiple new metro lines, including one that is 30 meters under the sea. They are also building new BRT (bus and rail) lines between other clusters, which will be operated by the city, over 100km of BRT lines in total.
  • The metro lines and tunnels are already started, with some parts done by next year. They have also started work on the port as well.
  • Transport is top priority and security is second.
  • The city is committed to solving all security issues. There is enough time until the Games, and safety is important to the legacy of the games and the city.

Other thoughts:

  • Having the World Cup two years ahead of Games will be a big help in preparing. Both events share the problem of transport, so the airports will be ready to handle increase usage for the Cup. The two events have different organising committees, but work in a similar way, raising private funds and working with public resources for infrastructure.
  • Politicians are very active and support the process, but they are not the ones driving the process.
  • Every organising city will be different and it is hard to compare. Rio will be unique, just as London and Sochi will be unique.

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