News / Europe

Olympic Games Begin in Earnest Saturday

Poland's Kamil Stoch jumps during the men's normal hill ski jumping training at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Feb. 7, 2014.
Poland's Kamil Stoch jumps during the men's normal hill ski jumping training at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Feb. 7, 2014.
Parke Brewer
Five gold medals will be awarded at the Sochi Olympics Saturday as 16 days of competition begin in earnest.

Ninety-eight medal events will be contested at these 22nd Winter Games, 12 more than in Vancouver four years ago. Among the new events are women’s ski jumping, team figure skating, mixed relays in luge and biathlon, as well as some freestyle skiing and snowboarding events added to attract younger audiences.

Competition will take palace at the Olympic Park by the Black Sea, which features seven new indoor venues, as well as in the mountains where all the outdoor events are located, relatively close to one another, and reachable by bus or train in about an hour from Sochi. It is the most compact Winter Games ever.

  • Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park during the opening ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • Actors perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A general view shows a scene from the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • The colors of the Russian flag are seen during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A general view shows the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A scene from the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • Flag-bearer Todd Lodwick of the U.S. leads his country's contingent during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • OlympicsA map of Canada is projected onto the stadium floor as athletes march in during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.

​In all, about 5,500 athletes and team officials are here from an expected 82 National Olympic Committees, the same number as Vancouver four years ago.

The United States has the largest delegation of athletes with 230, host Russia is next with 225 and Canada has 220.

Alan Ashley, Chief of Sport Performance for the U.S. Olympic Committee says American athletes have had great success internationally this season and that bodes well for a good showing in Sochi.

“Whether we win the medal count or not, I mean one of the things I can tell you is everybody comes here to compete. They come here to compete at the highest level, and we’ll see where the chips fall," said Ashley.

Ashley said that with dedication and perseverance, U.S. athletes have recently become more competitive in sports like biathlon and cross country skiing.

“By sticking with it for so long, they have developed their career in a way that they come here with a level of success where they really can have a good showing at an Olympic Games in sports in which we haven’t had that much success," he said.

The USOC’s Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun says the safety and security of athletes and the entire U.S. delegation is naturally a primary concern.

"As we always do, we work very closely with our State Department. Our State Department is in very close contact with the local authorities, and we react to situations as they arise, but we also have a lot of planning exercises in advance, and these Games are no different than any other Games in that respect," said Blackmun.

Blackmun added that the challenges at the Sochi Olympics are different because of the known terrorist threats, but he expressed confidence that the Russian authorities have been doing everything they can to keep everyone safe.

U.S. alpine skier Julie Mancuso, a four-time Olympian with a gold and two silver medals, shared her thoughts on the security issues.

“We’ve had a lot of, you know, headlines and people calling me [and saying] like ‘just be safe in Russia,’ and I think the issues within the country, it’s difficult, and as an athlete we’re here to compete and I just really trust in everyone keeping us safe.  And I’m just here to really take it all in and enjoy the experience and try not to worry about anything else," said Mancuso.

Sergey Demidov, Deputy Chief of Sports with Russia’s Itar Tass News Agency, said in a VOA interview that the Russians are hoping all Olympic visitors will feel confident in the organization of these Games.

“We want all guests of the Olympic Games, all athletes from all the world to be really happy here. All we hope really from our hearts, we want you to look at the best side, you know not about all those [negative] Tweets [about some of the lodging issues on Twitter], you know, look at the bright side. Look around and you will see many great things," said Demidov.



Demidov said neither the Russian journalists nor the athletes are predicting how successful the Russian team will be.

“We don’t count medals. There is a common feeling that every medal - gold, silver or bronze - it doesn’t matter. It will be like a brilliant medal and that every participant, each of our 225 athletes on the Russian team is our real national hero, and all of them are just the same," he said.

Gold medals in five sports will be contested Saturday - women’s moguls in freestyle skiing, as well as a cross country event (7.5km+7.5km skiathlon), and the men’s 10 -kilometer biathlon, 5,000-meter speed skating and a new snowboarding event called slopestyle.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More