The International Olympic Committee, which is holding its breath in hope of staging a successful Beijing Games, must be worried sick about the 2007 award of the 2014 Games to Sochi, the pride of “Russia’s Riviera.” The Black Sea city of 400K is only a short ride away from the Russian tanks that are currently ravaging neighboring Georgia. Sochi is only 15 miles from the breakaway region of Georgia that is politically supported by Russia.
Russian czar Vladimir Putin, a man eager to flex his country’s economic and military power, laughed both of them off because U.S. credibility on the world’s stage is shot in the aftermath of Iraq, a place where Georgia proudly sent 2,000 of its troops to show support for the U.S. Those soldiers are returning home to fight the Russians. They must be wondering what they were doing in Iraq in the first place and where is the payoff for their embattled country?
It’s hard to imagine the gutless IOC, which was snookered by promises of reform from the Chinese, pulling the Games from Sochi. Salzburg (Austria) was a runner-up. The Sochi '14 website informs visitors there are 2,005 days before the beginning of its Games. Much can happen in the boiling Black Sea region during that countdown.
There is a big question on the PR front. Who gets to carry the Olympic torch through the streets of Sochi? Will it be Weber Shandwick’s Harris Diamond or Jack Leslie?
Weber Shandwick guided the Sochi bid and has been named agency of record for the Games. It has its work cut out.