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Putin Opens Winter Olympics in Sochi

Published: February 8, 2014 (Issue # 1796)



  • Sochi games' lavish opening ceremony gets under way.
    Photo: Vitaly Beloussov / RIA Novosti

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
    Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / RIA Novosti

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Friday after a lavish opening ceremony showcasing Russia as a resurgent nation.

I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially open, Putin said, raising the curtain on an Olympic Games that started as his pet project and has become the crowning moment of his third term as president.

In front of a near-capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium and millions of TV viewers worldwide, the opening show drew on Russias rich musical and literary heritage, with a few nods to its Soviet past.

Tonight we are writing a new page in Olympic history. These are the first-ever Olympic Games in the new Russia, said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. The German former fencer, 60, is overseeing his first Games since replacing Jacques Rogge at the helm of the IOC in September.

The Russians desire for their own winter sport resort was so great because of their passion for sports on snow and ice. What took decades in other parts of the world has been achieved here in just seven years. That is a remarkable achievement.

Bach called on athletes to live together with harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason, after an Olympic buildup marred by disputes over Russian laws banning promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships to children.

With a total cost of $51 billion, the Sochi Olympics are on course to be the most expensive in history by some measures, although that includes infrastructure not directly used for the Games and Russian officials say only $6.4 billion of directly competition-related costs should count.

Putin was the key figure in securing the right to hold the Games in 2007, giving a rare English-language speech to IOC delegates in Guatemala before Sochi was chosen.

Russian high culture was prominent in the ceremony, with allusions to the novel "War and Peace" and artist Wassily Kandinsky, while the Olympic hymn was sung by world-renowned opera singer Anna Netrebko.

Patriotism was a frequent theme, with the Russian national anthem played in its full form, lasting several minutes, as color-coded performers formed the countrys flag while red, white and blue lights beamed national colors around the arena.

The show began with a run through the Cyrillic alphabet, and there were also cameos from a choir of Orthodox monks and a squad of cosmonauts.

The countrys awkward relationship with its Soviet past was dealt with in a segment where Communist symbols including Stalin-era skyscrapers and a 50-foot-high hammer and sickle merged with jazz and other elements of what would once have been considered subversive culture.

The Olympic cauldron was to be lit by two heroes of Soviet sport, figure skater Irina Rodnina and hockey goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, each of them with three Olympic gold medals to their name. The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was one of the bearers of the Olympic flag.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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