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Olympic Games 1980

Anastasia Tsayder

Published on 10/02/14

© Ana­stasia Tsayder

Up until very recently the word Olympics in Rus­sia has mainly asso­ci­ated with the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The 1980 games became the last bright all-nation event to hap­pen in the USSR. The games had a largely sym­bolic mean­ing aimed to prove the superi­or­ity of Social­ist regime and ideas of Com­mun­ism. Olympic build­ings were a mani­fest­a­tion of prosper­ity and power of the Soviet State. Most build­ings were designed in 1975–1978, a period still marked with optim­ism and hopes for a bright future.
After the suc­cess of Russia’s bid to host the 2014 winter games the word Olympics got to be asso­ci­ated with the city of Sochi, where massive con­struc­tion works have been marked with mass relo­ca­tions of local res­id­ents, cor­rup­tion scan­dals and con­stant growth of expenses. The con­struc­tion is expec­ted to give the region numer­ous new sports ven­ues and infra­struc­ture, the prac­tic­al­ity of which will only be seen after a cer­tain period of time.
Olympic ven­ues in Moscow serve as nice example of what use olympic ven­ues can be to a city in a time span of 30 years. How do their func­tions change with time? Do they prove use­ful to the city? Per­haps this can dif­fer with some ven­ues still being used for its ini­tial pur­pose and oth­ers chan­ging their func­tion?
While costs of Sochi olympic con­struc­tion can be coun­ted and to an extent fore­cas­ted, the cost of 1980Olympics is unknown because of spe­cif­ics of Soviet planned eco­nomy. This way or the other, the 1980Olympics became the last big start in the Soviet Union. There is an opin­ion that the 1980 Olympics were at times close to fail­ure due to unfore­seen increases in costs, con­struc­tion lag­ging behind sched­ules (some of the ven­ues are said to have been com­pleted one day before com­pet­i­tions were to start), secur­ity con­cerns after Munich olympics, the fear of polit­ical sab­ot­age by the agents of “rival cap­it­al­ist regime”. Just like the Sochi olympics, the 1980 olympics in Moscow had an ideo­lo­gical mean­ing with Soviet daily life receiv­ing numer­ous brush-ups: people con­sidered unsafe were tem­por­ar­ily relo­cated out of Moscow, the city was closed for res­id­ents of other parts of the Soviet Union, chil­dren were taken to sum­mer resorts, food shops were stocked up with products from Fin­land.
Time has adap­ted cer­tain ven­ues for new func­tions, and some ven­ues became half aban­doned. The main venue of Moscow olympics, Sportkom­pleks Olimpiysky now hosts numer­ous small shops and a con­cert hall. Many ven­ues did not blend into city struc­ture, and ini­tially con­ceived like mes­sen­gers from the future now look like strangers from the past

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