Russia closes costliest OlympicsFebruary 23, 2014 20:36
Flushed with pride after a spectacular showing at the costliest Olympics ever, Russia celebrates 17 days of sport-driven global unity on Sunday night with a farewell show that hands off the Winter Games to their next host, Pyeongchang in South Korea.
The closing ceremony, a farewell from Russia with love, pageantry and protocol, starts at 20:14 local time precisely a nod to the year that President Vladimir Putin seized upon to remake Russia's image with the Olympics' power to wow and concentrate global attention and massive resources.
Its $51 billion investment, topping even Beijing's estimated $40 billion layout for the 2008 Summer Games, transformed a decaying resort town on the Black Sea into a household name. All-new facilities, unthinkable in the Soviet era of drab shoddiness, showcased how far Russia has come in the two decades since it turned its back on communism.
But the Olympic show didn't win over critics of Russia's backsliding on democracy and human rights under Putin and its institutionalised intolerance of gays.