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White elephants for the White Olympic Games

5-6 (2010)
Viewed: 1760
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Sochi Games are unique not only because they are spent in subtropics. For the first time all Olympic objects will be constructed from point zero. It means that the theme of their rational use after 2014 takes on special meaningfor Russia: the country will get a great heritage and can either win a lot or lose a lot.

«Sochi-2014» — is the largest building project in the newest national history. Russian society, of course, expects not only two weeks of a sports bright and rich holiday, from the project, comparable with legendary BAM and great Baikonur in scale and expenses.

«The heritage of the Games is, perhaps, one of the most important factors both for organizers, and for the International Olympic committee. When IOC members faced a choice who would get the Olympic Games-2014, probably, the heritage factor played a key role, — the president of Organizing committee «Sochi-2014» Dmitry Chernyshenko considers.

Three-level rest.

Stadiums are only top of the Olympic iceberg. About third of all expenses are connected with creation of a transport infrastructure.

The most expensive project — combined highway and railway Adler — Alpika-Service, which costs 250 billion roubles. Its capacity is calculated considering, that mounting skiing resort Krasnaya Polyana will receive simultaneously 120 thousand visitors. But experts are sure that, whatever one could say, actually, it won't do even with 20 thousand persons. And there are much cheaper alternatives to this superexpensive track, which builders, literally, cut out in mountains.

Other important component of the Olympic heritage — residential real estate. Now 2-2,5 million people come to have a rest in Sochi, and in five years, according to the Organizing committee forecast, their number will come to 6 million.

However, wouldn't such number of visitors of the capital of XXIX winter Olympic Games have to spend the night on the open-air? By estimates of the Sochi mayoralty, today city hotels have about 20 thousand rooms, as much — has private sector, and also 2,5 thousand has Krasnaya Polyana. Program of preparation for the Games presupposes to build 25 thousand 3-4-stars rooms more. Total fund of 50 thousand rooms turns out to be more than in Moscow with its 18-million population.

The Olympic metamorphoses.

By 2014 in the Imeretinskaya valley there will be 13 complexes total capacity of 194 thousand spectators. It is clear that the city with the population of 400 thousand people doesn't need a lot of sports objects. For this reason the target program provides their restructuring. Sceptics reasonably notice, that the maintenance of winter arenas in the conditions of subtropics is very expensive, and some sportsmen say, that they will go for practice sessions and trainings to Europe and the USA anyway.

Choose me.

A number of objects are designed as dismoutable. President of «Olympstroy» Taymuraz Bolloev specified that it is Small Ice Arena for ice hockey, Ice Arena for curling and the Palace of Sports for figure skating. There has been no decision on placing of these objects after 2014 yet. Meanwhile, there has already started serious struggle for them. Therey are about ten regions-applicants. Nobody has ever told the cost of moving arenas to the other place. In case of ice palaces migration to the north, they should be heated — that means to change the design completely. So, the price of dismantle, transportation of the dismantled parts and new installation of the warmed variant can cost as much, as its building from point zero in Sochi.

Waiting for the professional heir.

Too big expectations from the Olympic Games often played a malicious joke with their organizers. Actually, none of the countries managed to use the Olympic heritage to the maximum, and the Postolympic problems of Montreal and Athenes became antiadvertizing — till now these cities suffer from «white elephants».

The director of Institute of Regional Policy Bulat Stolyarov insists, that the Russian government has to create the professional heir for Sochi as soon as possible: «It should already now plan the development of both congress-exhibition, and trade-entertainment activity on the Olympic objects after renovation».

Other experts doubt the possibility to use the objects constructed for the Olympic Games properly, because of problems of ecological character. Better to say, capital constructions are build on slimy and marshy soil. Besides in the Imeretinskaya valley occur five-point earthquakes. Power representatives have absolutely different view on a subject. Vice-premier Dmitry Kozak is sure, that Sochi is developing harmoniously enough, though very rapidly and, consequently, we shouldn't worry about its destiny and destiny of a heritage. Who will be right — sceptics-scientists or optimists-officials, time will show.

Expression “white elephant” came to English language from Southeast Asia. In Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia white elephants, sacred animals of the Buddha, were forbidden to be exploited according to custom. You could only feed, tend and cherish them. White elephant, like “white person” shouldn't need anything. It required considerable expenses. And as the elephant didn't bring any material advantage, its owners often appeared on the verge of ruin. To get rid of an elephant was impossible.


Author: Sergey Semyonov