Sochi wins Olympics

The Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, after it beat Pyeongchang and Salzburg to win the games. The International Olympic Committee handed Russia the games in the second round of voting at their 119th IOC session in Guat

During the first round of voting Sochi received 34 votes, Peyongchang got 36 votes and 25 votes went to Salzburg. The city with the least amount of votes was excluded. Sochi then beat Peyongchang to the finishing line, by gaining 51 votes to 47.

Sochi's Olympic bid was dubbed the 'Gateway to the Future', and now it's officially open.

Sport experts had long predicted South Korea's Peyongchang would win the contest to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Many agreed that Sochi would only come second and described Salzburg as an outsider.

But it didn't affect the Russian leader's decision to come to Guatemala and throw his weight behind Sochi's bid.

President Vladimir Putin personally presented the candidacy, making an exception to speak English publicly. To charm the International Olympic Committee, he even added a surprise sentence in French, saying millions of Russians dreamt of hosting the 2014 Olympics.

Polls show public support for Sochi's bid in Russia is over 90%.

Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, says Sochi won because it was better “in persuading the members that they can rely on three essential issues: well-known quality of Russian sport, in the top three in the world; total commitment of the Russian government and President Putin and the legacy this project is going to leave for the city and the region.”

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandr Zhukov, says the Winter Olympics in 2014 “will be an incredible catalyst for changes in our country. Russia is a young democracy only 15 years old. The games in Sochi will accelerate positive change. They will leave one of the greatest sporting, social and environmental legacies in Olympic history. They will set new standards for inclusiveness of people with disabilities in Russia. They will change millions of lives.”

“This victory now gives us the full right to build the venues for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Lots of money has already been allocated to the construction of the world-class sports facilities, and we are now realising all the projects to make Sochi a first class resort that we can be proud of. I repeat, we have all the opportunities for this and I'm sure we will do it on time,” noted Aleksandr Tkachev, the Governor of the Krasnodar region.

Eric DePoy, from Russia's Alfa-Bank, says all sectors of economy, but especially construction business, in Sochi will benefit from hosting the Olympics.

“What is construction? There is road building, there is cement producers, companies that make cables for electric networks. But it touches very much other sectors: you have consumer and retail, for example, telecommunications, Comstar, for example, Golden Telecom. I mean it really will touch broad range of sectors and companies, the deeper you go the more opportunities there are,” Mr DePoy believes.

The President of Russia's Olympic Committee, Leonid Tyagachev praised the rivals but said he was positive the vote would favour Sochi.

“When we got on the plane to Guatemala I told everybody, that Salzburg is of course a very strong bid, that it's the second attempt for Pyeongchang to host the games, they also have a very stong team, but I said that Russia would be up against South Korea in the final vote. I also said to everybody that Sochi would beat Pyeongchang by 3 votes. The competition was tough because the rivals were very strong.”

International Olympic Committee member Shamil Tarpishchev says President Putin's trip to Guatemala was a decisive factor in the victory:

“What happened here is just a miracle and we are all happy – it is a great victory for Russia and Russian sport. President Putin's visit to Guatemala and his taking helm of our team played a significant role – I think it helped to attract undecided votes. It's a difficult victory but Russia deserved it.”

And after arriving back in Moscow from Guatemala, the Russia's leader expressed his delight at the decision.

“I congratulate all sports fans in Russia, actually all Russian people, on this happy and important occasion. Our city of Sochi has been chosen to host the Winter Olympics in 2014. This means not only that Russia's prominent standing in sports has been recognised, but also that Russia itself has been recognised as a country. With its economic growth and social programs, it has gained approval from one of the most influential and independent international organisations, namely the International Olympic Committee. Preparation for the Olympic Games in Sochi will surely stimulate further development of the South of Russia,” Mr Putin said.

Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber has also welcomed Sochi's victory, congratulating Vladimir Putin during his three day visit to Moscow.

“I want to congratulate you on this victory to host the 2014 Winter Olympic bid in Sochi.  I've noticed that it is now topic number one in Russia. I congratulate Russia and you personally with this victory,” he said.

Svetlana Zhurova, Sochi-2014 Ambassador expressed her feelings about Sochi's victory in RT Spotlight feature.

Earlier, RT voter revealed our website visitors' sympathies for Sochi. 72% of those who have voted on RT website thought that Sochi would be chosen to host 2014 Winter Olympics.

It might be thousands of miles away from the action in Guatemala but the people in Moscow have also been celebrating what they believe is the country's success.

While many people decided to watch the anxiously awaited announcement from the comfort of their own home, others headed down to one of Moscow's most popular pubs to see the result with friends. It might have been the early hours of the morning, but it didn't put off the Muscovites.

“Sochi is one of the best cities and it's natural that I've come here. I support the whole of Russia and as Sochi is a part of it I support it too,” explained one of the supporters.

The news everyone was hoping for was met with surprise, cheers and elation

“We can show to Europe and to the whole of the world that Russia is able to hold serious events and is ready to work on the highest level,” believes another supporter.

Although it might be 7 years until that happens, for Russians now is definitely a time to celebrate.

While Russians and their supporters celebrate the victory, other bidding countries are grieving over their defeat.

In Pyongchang a huge crowd gathered at the centre of the city in front of big-screen televisions to watch the decision. People reacted with deep shock on the announcement that they had failed to win. Some threw their Pyongchang flags to the ground, while others just burst into tears. Four years ago South Korea also bid to host the games with a similar result.

In the Austrian city of Salzburg a ghastly hush fell after the words of the IOC President, that ended the city's Olympic ambitions after just the first round of voting. The Austrian media had widely predicted defeat. It was the second time Salzburg had been eliminated in the first round. Four years ago it lost to Vancouver in similar circumstances.

To watch the 2014 Olympic signing ceremony, please follow thelink.

To watch the address of Chiharu Igaya, the IOC Evaluation Commission Chairman, prior to the election, please follow the link.

To watch Sochi celebrating the news,  please follow the link.

To compare the promotional videos of Sochi and Pyeongchang, please follow the link.

To watch the main part of Russia’s presentation of Sochi’s Olympic bid to the IOC, please follow the link.

For more on the background of the final countdown of the Olympic bid, please follow the link.