Events can be described as public or social occasions which are planned within a venue and are usually of importance. The Sochi Olympics staged in 2014 was an event that qualifies within the parameters of an event. The organizers of the Olympic Games engaged in planning for the event using the life cycle model that also factored in its location as a tourist destination. The event was planned on three key stages or cycles of formation, growth and staging. The formal structured approach was important in planning for successfully staging the Games. The event life cycle is important in planning for events and reviewing in order to give recommendations for improvements. Each cycle can be broadened into: formation (strategy and planning,), growth (marketing and promotion, design and development) and staging (execution).
Analysis of Event Life Cycle
Formation Stage- The formation cycle of the Sochi Olympics started in 2005 when the International Olympic committee invited bids for hosting the 2014 games, with the Russian Federation submitting Sochi as the identified location for hosting the Olympics. Sochi is approximately 145 km in length and is found along the Black Sea coastal area. It forms part of the Krasno dar region and grew as a health-resort city (Vamling & Bo 2013). It has a unique climate that offers visitors the opportunity to mountain ski and sun-bath at the same time. A.O (2014) explains that the main reason why it was chosen because it is fitted in with the geo-political aspirations of Vladimir Putin.
Putin was known to spend a lot of time in Sochi as his favorite vacation location. He wanted to solidify his international legitimacy with Sochi as his showpiece. Another reason why it was chosen is because it has traditionally been associated with corruption and this was seen in the budget that was over- run by 150%.When Sochi received the official confirmation in 2007, the Russian Olympic Committee set out plans for the actual preparation of the games. The Sochi Organizing Committee comprising of official drawn from the Federal Agency for Physical Culture and Sports, the Administrators of the city of Sochi and the Russian Olympic body (Muller 2011). This committee was tasked with providing planning, delivery and closure under a Soviet-style that was grandiose and wasteful, and intended to assuage national pride.
Growth stage- The growth stage incorporated the design and development components of construction. This also included marketing and promotion of the games. Funding was also secured through public (4%) and private (96%) participation. The various costs associated with the games totaled $ 55 billion (Ortung 2014). The event overstated its initial projection due to corruption in different forms: sites were reworked in order to justify the extra charges and giving work to friends with no qualifications as contractors (A.O 2014). The cost breakdown was in operational and capital costs for constructing new venues. Other costs extended to sports related as well as those not related to sports such as infrastructure improvement
The contractor’s work included moving the stadium used for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to Sochi. Other structures such as the bleachers and concession stands were also relocated to Sochi. This was done to save construction costs and was part of the corruption process. The marketing and promotion revolved around the official slogan “Hot. Cool.Yours.” This was an improvement of the earlier suggestion: “Potentially the Most Terrifying Olympics of All Time.” The change of campaign was to pre-empt the negative feedback that would arise with claims of corruption after the games. This campaign included components such as broadcasting, sponsorship, ticketing and licensing. The promotion and marketing was successful, generating the highest revenues at $ 1.2 billion and surpassing previous Winter Olympics (Olympic.org 2014).
Staging- The games which involved over 6000 athletes was hosted in different sites in and near Sochi. The main Olympic Park was composed of the Bolshoy Ice Dome, Iceberg Skating Palace, Adler Arena and the Shayba Arena. It also included the Fisht Stadium which served as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies (Fitzpatrick 2014). Various villages were constructed for the athletes such as the Media Village found at the Rosa Khutor resort and the Rosa village in Krasnaya Polyana (Olympic.org 2014). The games were officially opened on the 7th February and closed after two weeks on the 23rd of the same month. The organizing committee ensured that any security emergencies and unforeseen occurrences would be handled quickly with other stakeholders and participants.
The staging was not attended by the leaders of the US, Germany, the UK and France. This was due to the anti-stance that was adopted by Russia. The leaders of the above countries boycotted the opening ceremonies as a way of showing their disapproval with the stance taken by Russia (Campbell-Dollaghan 2013). Despite the growing tensions between Russia and the Ukraine, the Ukrainian president attended the official opening in order to get a private audience with Putin. Immediately following the closing of the winter Olympics, the Paralympics commenced thereafter. The Paralympics had a total of 72 medal events and required more than 8000 volunteers to assist the athletes participating (Paralympic.org 2014). The sports which featured included alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and ice sledge hockey..
The first recommendation is with regards to the formation stage of the event life cycle. Sochi was not the best location to host a winter Olympic due to its climate which is sub-tropical. During the games, it was not cold enough to snow which was a requirement for staging of some games (Taylor 2014). For Sochi to have continued attracting tourists coming for “athleisure”, ensuring that it has natural climatic condition is important. For the residents who are the stakeholders, generating artificial snow after the event would not have been commercially viable and sustainable. The recommendation in the future is to use a location that has the ideal climatic to ensure its sustainability in terms of weather conditions.
The second recommendation would be to choose a location that is more secure in order to reduce costs related to security. Sochi lies in the southern area of Russia that is prone to concerns over security (Sochi 2014). The US had two warships on standby in case of any terrorist attack. Sochi could not attract and maintain visitors as a tourist destination in the future due to security concerns. Sochi city could not provide security on the scale seen during the event and this makes its sustainability as a future events avenue to be greatly compromised. The recommendation is to allow the stakeholders be the primary providers of security in order to build confidence of the local stakeholders long after the games have ended.
The third recommendation is to convert some of the sporting facilities for use in sports that are normally played in warmer weather. Some of the facilities which had to use artificial snow could be used for regional or national games within the Russian Federation. This would ensure that the residents of Sochi are not left with a “white elephant” project that does not add economic value. The new use of the facilities would ensure that the economy that was stimulated and boosted by staging the Olympics is sustainable and adds value to Sochi as a sports tourism destination. This would make the residents own up the facilities and continue marketing itself as a sports and athleisure tourist destination.
The Sochi Olympic Games was held in 2014 and was the venue for both the winter and Paralympics games. The sets of actions that culminated in the successful staging involved planning using the event life cycle. The formation, growth and staging were holistically incorporated and executed independently. The formation stage involved strategy and planning, while the growth factored in designing, marketing and promotion. The staging was across multiple sites and the same venue was used for both events. While the event was successful, several recommendations could have resulted in lowering the costs associated with the games. During the formation stage, identifying a location that is secure and appropriate is important in controlling the costs attendant with staging an event.
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