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New events and venues. Record-breaking spending. Political and social subtext. Anticipation and hype for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has reached new heights. Coverage began Thursday, Feb. 6, but the opening ceremony will be broadcast Friday, and the world will finally see the culmination of the most expensive winter Games in history.
This is Russia’s first time hosting the Winter Olympics and the country is making history in doing so, featuring 12 first-time events. Competition has expanded to include men’s and women’s ski half-pipe, women’s ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, the figure skating team event and the luge team relay.
But a lot of attention will remain on the Olympic classics — snowboard half pipe, four-man bobsled, women’s figure skating, men’s alpine skiing downhill and hockey are ranked as the top five most popular events for fans watching the Games on television.
The Olympics will kick off Friday with the opening ceremony, held in the newly-built Fisht Olympic Stadium. The arrival of the Olympic torch, which began its journey in Moscow four months ago and has followed the longest route in the history of the winter Games, is sure to be a highlight — American snowboarder Kevin Pearce, whose promising career ended after a traumatic brain injury in 2009, will carry it.
But all of the fanfare has come at a steep price. Russia can only hope to break even, at best, after spending over $51 billion on facilities, infrastructure and security in the most expense Games to date. Russia has spent over five times as much as the Vancouver-hosted 2010 Olympics. Although hosting an event of this magnitude boosts tourism and the image of a country as a whole, questions about how the additional costs will be covered will linger after the competitors and fans leave on Feb. 23.
NBC will air the opening ceremony on tape delay at 7:30 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 7.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Melissa Braun at firstname.lastname@example.org.