Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Writers Lauren Groff and Michael Chabon on Trump, marriage and being a parent in 2018

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

US Supreme Court: Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation in turmoil

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Amnesty International says at least 58 killed in Addis Ababa violence

Read more

FOCUS

Austria restricts immigration and hampers integration

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

Historian Joan Scott: 'Hardline secularism is as bad as hardline Islam'

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Shaking up the workplace: How employers face the challenge of automation

Read more

FOCUS

Even in Kenya, exiled Burundians fear for their lives

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Alibaba founder rolls back on pledge to create 1m US jobs

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Controversial or creative? Chef gets lobsters high before boiling them so they don't suffer

Read more

REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2018-02-16

Video: How the 2014 Winter Olympics transformed Sochi

© France 24

In 2014, the Russian seaside resort of Sochi hosted the Winter Olympics. With a price tag of $50 billion, they were the most expensive Olympic Games ever. The event was intended to showcase the triumphant return of Vladimir Putin to the international stage, two years after his re-election as Russian president. Today, what has become of these sprawling sites? Our reporter returned to Sochi.

In 2007, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to Sochi, kicking off a profound transformation of the southern Russian city. Initially estimated at $12 billion, the cost of hosting the Games kept soaring to reach $50 billion. One corruption scandal followed another, while the authorities and companies sharing the works were less than transparent about the budget. But in the end, Sochi pulled it off. After five years of building work day and night, the city had brand new infrastructure to boast of: more than 550 kilometres of roads and railway lines, dozens of hotels, several new ski resorts, a conference centre and no less than six Olympic stadiums.

But even before the Sochi Games’ closing ceremony, the eyes of the world were already on neighbouring Ukraine, where the pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovich was ousted by the Maidan revolution in February 2014. The following month, Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and fell out with the West, leaving a bitter aftertaste to the panache of the Sochi Games. In the city, however, building work continued in order to turn the Olympic infrastructure into a site suitable for welcoming tourists. For as well as the Olympics, Vladimir Putin had another project in mind: giving Russia a world-class tourist resort to attract holidaymakers from Russia and abroad.

Up to 20 years to pay off cost of Games

The beach in summer, the ski slopes in winter: Sochi’s subtropical climate makes it an ideal location for tourists. The Russian president himself owns a villa there. His charm offensive towards his compatriots seems to have worked: last year, 6.4 million tourists visited Sochi, most of them Russians. Vladimir Putin spared no expense on promoting the city: sport, cultural and geopolitical events now take place throughout the year in Sochi.

But although successes are undeniable, there are also difficulties - especially financial ones for investors who are struggling to repay the cheap loans granted by VEB, a Russian state-owned bank that finances major government projects. Experts estimate that it will take at least 15 to 20 years to pay off the colossal expenses incurred for the Games. Nevertheless, for the people of Sochi, the Games have breathed new life into their city.

By Elena VOLOCHINE , Thomas LOWE

Archives

2018-09-07 REVISITED

Video: One year after Hurricane Irma, St Martin struggles to recover

On September 5, 2017, Hurricane Irma – the most powerful the Caribbean has ever seen – hit Saint-Martin, the small island France shares with the Netherlands. At least 11 people...

Read more

2018-08-24 REVISITED

Is Iceland's economic miracle a social model for Europe?

Our reporters returned to Iceland, some 10 years after the tiny island nation plunged into a deep crisis after the country’s banking system collapsed like a house of cards....

Read more

2018-06-22 REVISITED

Video: Shenzhen, from fishing port to China’s Silicon Valley

As French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe begins a four-day visit to China in the south-eastern city of Shenzhen, our team reports from this former fishing village that’s been...

Read more

2018-06-08 REVISITED

Video: What remains of multicultural France that won 1998 World Cup?

Most French people remember where they were on the night of July 12, 1998. That’s when France was crowned the winner of the football World Cup, after beating Brazil 3-0. After...

Read more

2018-05-25 REVISITED

After key battle, Syrian town of Kobane looks to the future

In 2014, the Syrian town of Kobane was the scene of a long and deadly battle involving the Islamic State group, Kurdish YPG forces and the US-led coalition.

Read more