Highlights of the 2014 Winter Olympics

After 17 action-packed days of competition in Sochi, Russia, the 2014 Winter Olympics have come to a close. Many astonishing records were set this year, including the costliest Olympics ever. With over $50 billion in expenses, Russia made the 2014 games the most extravagant Olympics ever—bigger than London 2012, and bigger than Beijing 2008.  Russia also won the most medals—13 golds and 33 overall.

The top-winning countries following Russia were Norway, Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands. (The detailed medal count can be found on the Sochi 2014 website.) Over the course of the games, six new World records and 10 new Olympic records were set in various sports, from figure skating to speed skating, by inspiring athletes like Gracie Gold and Bode Miller.

Another unforgettable moment was the formation of the five Olympic rings during the opening and closing ceremonies. The fifth ring failed to light up in the opening ceremony, and in the closing ceremony, the dancers intentionally didn’t form the fifth ring immediately—the director “wanted something that was a mistake to become unforgettable.”

Despite the almost flawless execution of the Olympics in Sochi, there was much political controversy in the buildup to the games. Much of the negative publicity centered around the issue of gay rights. The Russian government passed a law that prohibits gay “propaganda” among minors, which critics say discriminates against homosexuals. Because this policy violated one of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter, President Obama and other world leaders chose not to attend the event.

Another concern was security. The threat of terrorism caused Russian President Putin to impose many security measures. Another issue, as with past Olympics, was the displacement of citizens. According to Human Rights Watch, over 2,000 families were forced to move and remain uncompensated.

Nevertheless, Russia proved itself to the world through the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies and its remarkable athletic performances. The country even combated the warm climate that posed a huge obstacle for the winter games. For some countries, the Sochi Olympics was a showcase of how far Russia has come since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. While the Olympics greatly boosted Russia’s pride, the economic impact on the nation won’t be great, considering the high costs. However, economists predict that the games may create a lasting legacy for Sochi that will attract business and tourism in the future.

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