The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: who stands to gain?
The Olympic Games of 1980 and 2014 present a case study in the hosting of sport mega-events by repressive regimes. In both cases, the authoritarian government sought hosting rights in order to enhance their own legitimacy, an aim that was largely met at home but at the cost of incurring damaging criticism abroad about human rights violations. In both cases, the Games sparked debates about how sporting events could be most effectively used to improve human rights overall. These debates revolved around familiar poles: on the one hand, claims that the events could help spur reform, and on the other hand, the argument that hosting would lead to heightened abuses. In 1980 even before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan triggered a large- scale boycott, some voices in Western Europe and the United States were arguing that Moscow should be spurned because of the Soviet Union’s record of repression. In 2014 though some boycott calls were made, boycotting seemed a less compelling tactic. Instead, reformers hoped to achieve results through public pressure. In the final tally, the results of both Games suggest that sports mega-events in repressive regimes are likely to lead to more repression.
The journalistic coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, involved various media platforms and the flow of information between mass media and social media. This phenomenon is not new; therefore, the research question that motivates this article is to what extent transmedia strategies were effectively applied to the Russian official news coverage of the Sochi Olympic Games. The theoretical framework focuses on transmedia journalism, and the method is based on the analytical model regarding transmedia news coverage of planned events developed by Gambarato and Tárcia. The research findings demonstrate that, although transmedial features are incorporated in the Russian coverage, there is modest content expansion and limited engagement with the audience.
This article explores the relationships between sport, space and state in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. While the extant literature has predominantly attributed the Russian government’s motives behind hosting the Olympics to showcasing Putin’s Russia, this article provides a more nuanced account of the Sochi project in light of its entanglements with regional development and its implications for Russia’s spatial governance. It argues that Sochi has been an important experimental space for the federal state in its reconstitution and re-territorialisation of the institutions of economic development. The Sochi project signposts a dual process: the return of regional policy to the state’s priorities and a (selective) return of the federal state to urban development. Whilst not without controversies and inconsistencies, this practice signifies a re-establishment of strategies seeking a more polycentric economic development, including through supporting places on Russia’s less developed peripheries. The article also presents insights into the practical operations of the Sochi project and its legacies, including most recent data on the disbursement of its budget.