Guess what, everyone? The Olympics are over and they went off without a hitch, according to Russian and Olympic officials, who gave themselves a sparkly, expensive pat on the back in the form of a lavish closing ceremony. Good job us, they said, for pulling off such a flawless event that was totally wonderful and not contentious in the least.
Despite certain well-documented #sochiproblems like toxic tap water and doorknob-less doors -- as well as less hashtag-friendly problems like officials beating Pussy Riot activists in the street and throwing environmental activists in jail for speaking out against Olympic village construction practices -- Russia "delivered all what it had promised," according to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
And indeed, nobody will complain that Russia cut corners during yesterday's closing ceremony. There were 62 pianos!
Sad Sochi Bear even made an appearance, shedding a single, symbolic tear to symbolize his sadness that the weeks of fun are coming to a close.
This was, presumably, the very same Sochi Bear who sat slumped and alone in the rafters after Russia lost the Olympic hockey game. Poor Sochi bear, a mere shadow of the euphoric Sochi bear who danced by himself in a half-finished hotel before the games even started, barely containing his excitement ahead of the glorious event.
The event also featured lots of fireworks and other spectacular events, like acrobats guiding boats through the air and being hoisted through upside-down houses, 1,000 children singing the Russian national anthem, and the traditional athlete parade.
To be clear, Russia knows it made some mistakes. Not the mistakes we mentioned earlier, but errors nonetheless. Like remember when during the opening ceremony one of the Olympic rings didn't quite open up and we were all like, 'gaffe alert'? Well, Russia remembers that too, and they were being totally cool about it during the closing ceremony.
But other than that, no mistakes were made during the Sochi Winter Olympics. In fact, no mistakes were made by Russia at all, probably ever. According to Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee President, "Russia delivered on its promise. This is the new face of Russia, our Russia." In fact, Chernyshenko was so pleased with how the Olympic games turned out that he quoted late IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, saying "for us, these are the best games ever." Russia also made out with the most gold medals of the event, a point of contention for some who suspect certain events may have been rigged.
According to The New York Times, Russian officials are in denial about more than just Sochi imperfections. With tourists and athletes cleared out of the Olympic Village, Sochi will become a 40,000-hotel-room town without a clear plan for the future. The Times reports:
Sochi is at risk of becoming a gold-rush town that just ran out of gold. A recent report by Moody’s Investors Service said that the area would need to double its flow of visitors, to at least five million a year, to keep the hotels full. That is highly unlikely. Real estate companies estimate that occupancy rates could fall to between 35 percent and 40 percent after the Games, the report said.
The Kremlin-backed Russian Times predicts a much rosier future for the resort town:
Choosing to host the Olympics in Sochi was a ‘good choice’, and revenue will continue to flow into the city after the Games and attract more tourists and investors, says Deloitte, Heineken, and Swissotel. “Ultimately [Sochi] has proven itself the right choice,” David Owen, CEO of Deloitte CIS, told RT by email. Billions tuned into the Sochi 2014 Olympics, more than 140,000 experienced it first-hand, and now Sochi and the Krasnaya Polyana regions will continue to develop. “The Olympic buzz will attract tourists,” Tamara Afonina, Clustered Director of Sales and Marketing at Swissotel, told RT.
A smiling President Vladimir Putin presided over the event, accepting praise from Bach for Sochi's "amazing" transformation from an "old, Stalinist-style sanatorium city where you entered the room and you were looking at the roof so you would not be hit from something falling down," to the glorious Sochi of today.
Now, Putin will face the less pleasant task of figuring out what to do in Ukraine, where the the Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych is on the lam and the interim government wants nothing to do with Russia, which hopes to maintain Soviet-style influence in the region. But we have a feeling that no matter what happens, Putin and his friends will declare it a success.