Russia prepares to host the world’s finest athletes for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games
The eyes of the world will be on Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to 23. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games will take place over the course of those action-packed 17 days. More than 3 billion people around the globe are expected to watch the Games on television. About 84 countries will take part, bringing more than 5,500 athletes and team members to Sochi. Then, the action will continue with the Paralympic Winter Games, which will run from March 7 to 16. In the Paralympics, athletes with disabilities compete in sporting events. The Paralympics began in 1960 to give athletes with disabilities a chance to compete for Olympic gold.
A Return to Russia
The 2014 Games in Sochi are not the first to take place on Russian soil. In 1980, Moscow, Russia’s capital, hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Sochi, located on the coast of the Black Sea, is one of Russia’s largest resort cities, with a population of about 350,000.
Russia has been preparing for the Games since it was chosen to host them in 2007. Construction of the Olympic venues in Sochi began in 2009. Opening and closing ceremonies will take place in the newly built Fisht Olympic Stadium, which seats 40,000 people. The dome-shaped stadium, named after the nearby Fisht Mountain, opens on either end. Spectators get a view of Fisht and other mountains in the north and the Black Sea in the south.
Just in case the weather is too warm for snowfall, Olympic organizers have been stockpiling snow since last year. They learned their lesson from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. During those Games, temperatures were so warm that organizers had to truck and fly in snow from a nearby mountain. For Sochi, organizers gathered up 16 million cubic feet of snow—about how much water flows over Niagara Falls in four minutes. They also used hundreds of snow-blowing machines to collect icy-cold water from two lakes, which they then turned into tons of artificial snow. Thick insulated blankets on top of the snow keep it from melting.
In addition to having enough snow, security is a top priority for both Olympic officials and the Russian government. After several recent terrorist attacks in Russia, tens of thousands of security officers have been assigned to Sochi to make sure the Games remain peaceful and safe for everyone in attendance.