The Sochi Olympics ended much as they began: with a star failing to open into an Olympic ring. Russia proved they could laugh at themselves, as the people on the far right of the formation stubbornly refused to open up into the traditional Olympic symbol. But after the self-deprecating humor and pageantry of the closing ceremonies ends one of the most expensive Olympics ever – and arguably one no better for the vast amount of money poured in. Part of the reason Russia won the Olympic contract was offering to hold the Olympics at the reasonably low price of 12 billion dollars. However, that quickly proved to be an impossible commitment, and some 50 billion dollars were spent in total, much of it lining the pockets of Russia’s elite.
More expensive than the famously exorbitant and extravagant Chinese Summer Olympics, the Sochi Olympics are a bloated symbol of a corrupt regime, and bodes ominously for Russia’s future hosting of the World Cup in 2018.
In spite of the shadow cast on the games by corruption and poor planning, perhaps unsurprisingly, Russia came out a clear winner, with thirty-three medals, thirteen of them gold. Norway, Canada, and the United States came in close behind, but Russia benefitted from the traditional advantage of hosting, an advantage which frequently impacts the ultimate scores. However, if anyone is the winner in the Sochi games, it is the media. The eyes of the world were upon Russia, and hours of coverage of human rights abuses provided ample insight into a regime which by and large prefers to stay out of the camera eye.
As always, the Olympics were a triumphant spectacle of international unity, but this one, perhaps more than most, was marred by corruption and the dirty laundry of the host nation.