January 01, 2014

Assessing the Damage

Assessing the Damage

On November 23, 2013, in the build-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution whereby the state will pay out R4 million ($125,000) to any Russian athlete who wins a gold medal at the Sochi Games (silver will bring R2.5 million, bronze R1.7 million). So what is the potential “damage” these awards might do to the Russian budget?

Odds are high that the “damage” to the state will be greater than it was four years ago. Andrei Kolesnikov of Kommersant has covered several recent Olympics. “It would be hard for Russia to do worse than in Vancouver,” he said. There, Russia finished eleventh in the overall medal count – seen by many as a humiliation. What is more, the team from one of the world’s wintriest countries brought home just three Winter Olympics golds – half as many as were won by South Korea.

Host teams always do better than their average at the Olympics, and the Russian team surely dreams of the sort of success enjoyed by Great Britain in London’s 2012 Summer Olympics. After the 2010 games, President Vladimir Putin made a very clear statement of intent:

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