by Joshua Foust on 7/5/2007 · 6 comments

A big hearty congratulations goes out to famed resort town (that is, according to the hilariously straight-faced Russia Today) of Sochi, Russia, for winning the 2014 Olympics. Seeing as to how it already had a developed tourist industry, I suppose it makes as much sense as any of the other top contenders. I am disappointed, however, that long-shot contender Almaty didn’t win. Granted, they didn’t have—pardon the term—a snowball’s chance in hell, but it would have been nice to see the most functional country in Central Asia gain the prestige an Olympics host would confer.

Plus, Chymbulak is a really cool place. The trails aren’t as technically good as what I would ride down in Colorado, but they had snow year-round, and that enormous earthen dam is really fun to walk around. And Medeu, who can forget gazing down at the hundreds of people circumambulating Medeu.

Oh well. Almaty will have to prove its ability to host a major international sporting event at the 2011 Asian Winter Games. If it does that successfully, maybe it will have a shot at 2018 or 2022.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Andy July 5, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Maybe the CIS should set up its own games, like the Commonwealth Games.

They could rotate the host country every four, so everyone (eventually) gets a chance!

Frank July 5, 2007 at 2:31 pm

I’m kind of surprised that Sochi got it. It’s a neat city but – c’mon, Stalin’s dacha is in the area. And hearing that the city is full of “sanitoria” is probably going to scare most Westerners.

And I’d argue that Almaty’s slightly more developed than Sochi. Sochi’s tourism style is more Intourist than Fodor’s. At least Almaty has all the ethnic restaurants.

This’ll be great, though, to see Bob Costas taking us all on a four-hour excursion led by a babushka named Svetlana Ivanovna to a tea plantation, followed by a banya and a night at the diskoteka.

Joshua Foust July 5, 2007 at 4:01 pm

Yay! Everyone gets their own international sporting event!

Frank, I also can’t wait for Bob Costas to discover Russia… I hope he also remembers to tell us about the magic of Chambraigne

Nach July 6, 2007 at 6:52 pm

I’m still waiting for that goat-pulling game to make it into the summer olympics…

Bonnie Boyd July 8, 2007 at 4:20 am

Well, there are the Central Asian games. The next step would be for them to seek other states to join them and to also apply for some accreditation from other groups: the PGA, the Polo Association under a “heritage grant.” But I think the goat games would bring down a rain of animal rights people, so maybe not.

Frank July 9, 2007 at 10:32 am

Joshua – I can’t decide if Space Ghost et al. would be more or less entertaining than the already-unintentionally-comical commentary offered by NBC sports.

Bonnie – too bad the goat games would rankle the ire of the animal-rights folks; it would be quite the PR coup for the goats of Central Asia. Surely a Central Asian goat gets more respect and glory as an ulaq carcass than at any point during her or his life…

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