Sorry, Pierre de Coubertin!

It was just a few days ago: while the USA were « enjoying » springtime in Anchorage, Alaska (+11°C) and freezing from Chicago down to New Orleans (-5°C), winter made a shy arrival in Europe (probably 4 or 5 weeks after schedule). Further South-East, in Sochi, the Olympic show could start. No doubt Vladimir, top project manager, would make it a great media success!

sochi_2014_mountains2

The O.G., like Football World Cup, are both a unique popular remote-controlled gathering and a pharaonic business. Organized by Putin-Medvedev duet, the Games are a marvelous political PR exercise. Symbol of Russia’s greatness and revival, revenge of a man would just couldn’t bear the fall of the USSR. Vladimir is self-willing and disciplined. Sky is his limit, power is his drug. Critics may regret this cocktail of sport, business and politics. Sochi’s O.G. will remain record-breaking in terms of costs and human/environmental consequences. Recent developments in Ukraine may already distract us from the big things at stake in Grand Russia.

Do Russian people and business partners (more or less forced to invest in Sochi’s financing) actually believe in the O.G. as a strategic way to diversifty and develop the Russian economy? So far and despite attempts towards innovation (Russian Silicon Valley), Russia is deeply addicted to raw materials and energy sources. Oil and gas amount to 70% exports and keep on increasing. Corruption is natural resources business’ best friend! No matter what Vlad will undertake or say. The Russian democracy is a farce, forget the ‘just in time’ amnisties (Pussy Riots members or Greenpeace arctic activists). Sochi’s events have been successful and untouched by Caucasian back office turbulences. Next will come Caucasian ski resorts projects, with a strong technical and financial support from France’s Compagnie des Alpes. Looking back into past, some historians would like to keep in people’s minds Cherkassian genocide, some 150 years ago, in the same Caucasian backyard!

The Swiss head office of the O.G. have learned for a while not to look into some embarrasing directions. They just admit corruption always existed, and feel sorry for unpaid workers and other social faults. Let’s hope Baron Pierre de Coubertin didn’t wake up during his eternal sleep. Last, remains the R.O.I. question for these Games. Will the « Nouveaux Russes », great fans of Courchevel, Gstaad or Saint Moritz, really change their jet set habits?? Will Caucase be the next fashion « faux pas » or the place to be? And what about the average Russian ski fan, already enjoying the Alpine style? Forget it! « The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well »

Laurent

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