The Sochi Winter Games wins a gold medal for costing more than all previous Winter Olympics — combined — weighing in at a staggering $50 billion price tag, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute of Modern Russia,
a United States-based think tank.
"The Sochi Olympics has gone down in history before it has opened: it is the most expensive Olympics in the history of humankind," IMR co-author Boris Nemtsov charges.
"With over $50 billion already spent, it is more expensive than the sports buildings of all the other [W]inter Olympics combined, and there have already been 21 of them.
"The Winter Olympics in Sochi is [President Vladimir] Putin’s personal project. He believed that the Olympic Games will be his triumph, and that the participation of athletes from all over the world will be recognition of his indisputable leadership, both in Russia and in the world," the report stated.
In addition, construction of the complex by the Black Sea has been riddled with corruption, according to the IMR, a group that advocates for democracy and human rights in Russia. It cited a local highway project that cost four times more than the entire 2010 Games.
“Unfortunately for Russians and Americans, flying to Mars is much cheaper than to build a road,” said Nemtsov.
"The astronomical sum of 1.5 trillion rubles spent on the Olympics has been controlled largely by business people and companies close to [President Vladimir] Putin," the report claims.
The largest investor, the state corporation Olympstroy, controlled $9.4 billion of state budget funds for construction at the Games. Three of its former top managers have been fired, accused of corruption, but have yet to go to trial.
"It is no secret that the preparation for the Olympics in Russia has been accompanied by unprecedented corruption. The lion’s share of the construction is being done either at the expense of the state budget, through state corporations, or through shareholder associations which are either state property or under state control," the report said.
Putin originally pitched the Olympics at Sochi, located in the warmest part of Russia, as a $12 billion project. "Essentially, the Olympics have exposed, in concentrated form, the main flaws of the [Russian] system: abuse, corruption, petty tyranny, cronyism, non-professionalism, and irresponsibility," the report concluded.
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