When I started this blog, I was wondering if many people in my target audience would want to see Sochi hosting Olympics if Olympic Games were to be this year and why, what people know about Sochi, and what do they think about other candidate cities’ advantages and disadvantages over Sochi. So, I’ve posted my question on a few travel boards and got a few answers. One thing I noticed is that many Europeans would prefer Austria’s bid over other’s for the reasons of convenience – geographical proximity means cheaper travel, no visa requirements, etc. And I can relate to all that. But I couldn’t help myself thinking how short-sighted this line of reasoning is. And, I think, partly this comes from lack of information.

Here are my thoughts on how Olympics in Sochi will benefit Europeans over Olympics in Salzburg.

Need to get a visa to travel to Russia today is a big turn off. But getting Russian visa is easy, though it may be pricey. But looking at the way things are going, by the year 2014 visa requirements between united Europe and Russia could be the thing of the past, or at least getting one will be a lot easier than it already is. There’s strong political will in Russia to make whole European continent a visa-free area, and even though neither side seems to be ready to completely remove visa requirements yet, certain progress has been made over the past couple of years. Such as new simplified visa regime with Germany, France, Italy, and several other countries for students, journalists, entrepreneurs, science, and culture workers. As well as agreement signed in Sochi during Russia-EU summit this year, cementing a new visa deal under which EU and Russian citizens will have to pay about 35 euros for travel documents, almost half the cost of EU visas for other countries. And an agreement on mutual exchange of illegal immigrants, which is an important document, because if enforced during next few years, it will be the base for further talks to completely remove visa regime between Russia and EU. So in the next seven years we could live in very different Europe!

Having said that, think of this: (a) Sochi is not that far away, and recently privatized terminal at the Sochi International Airport soon will be able to accept planes from a lot more international destinations; (b) the Caucasus is one of Europe’s tallest mountain ranges. Europe’s tallest mountain, Elbrus, is located the Caucasus Mountains. Even though Elbrus isn’t in Sochi, Sochi is in the same mountain range, and the nature here is perfect for winter recreations; (c) what isn’t perfect is today’s winter resort infrastructure in Sochi.  However, (lets for a moment forget that rapid development is already on the way – new hotels, new slopes and lifts, etc.) if Sochi gets the Olympics, you’ll have a brand new resort built with latest technologies and new hotels, and it will be a new place CLOSE you could visit on your winter vacation! And then who knows, with all these developments, maybe you’ll like it enough to visit Sochi during summer (Black Sea coast), spring and fall (hiking, rafting, kayaking, offroad driving, paragliding, and more).


  1. 1
    February 13th, 2007 at 23:24

    I predict that Sochi will not win the Olympic bid unless Russia promises visa free entry to Sochi for all nationalities for the duration of the Olympics, or at least the nationalities who tend to travel to the Olympics including Europeans, Japanese, Americans and Australians.

  2. 2
    February 14th, 2007 at 0:56

    Thanks for your feedback. I honestly don’t see this happening before the IOC desision, though, I wouldn’t rule out commitment (closer to the desision making date) to simplified/free visa for the citizens of the countries you’ve mentioned. But I haven’t heard anything like this yet.

    Even though I understand why IOC would want a host country to have open borders for Games’ guests. But following that unwritten “rule” means always having Olympics only in the countries you’ve mentioned, which isn’t fair for the rest of the World which participates in it. Don’t get me wrong, im not naive, and I know that Olympics is one big money making machine. However, the Olympic Games also spark development in the regions they are hosted, and they bring exciting healthy entertainment to the millions in the wide area around. All this shouldn’t be available only to EU, North America, Japan+Korea, and Australia. Having Olympics in Russia will mean that this event will be more accessible to over 300 mil people of the CIS who have visa free entry to Russia, who otherwise would have to do (and had to do this every two years for the longest time now) what citizents of the EU, US, Canada, etc. may have to do this time.

    Pesonally, though, I’m both hands up for lifting visa requirements, at least for the time of the Olympics. Maybe this would inspire others do the same for Russians similar events…

Leave a Comment