The Olympics has long been the venue where a country is able to showcase itself to the world. Just six years ago China threw its coming out party with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and this time around Russia is hoping to showcase its progress only a quarter century removed from Communism. Though one may expect this coming out party to be a grand opportunity to show the emergence of a country under capitalism it is shaping up to be a condemnation on how little Russia has come.
Mired in corruption the estimated cost when Russia bid for the 2014 Olympics was close to $12 billion. The actual total is now believed to land somewhere close to $50 billion making it the most expensive Olympic games and costing more than every other winter Olympic games combined. Despite this pricetag, construction in Sochi is not yet complete and mistakes have been well documented by reporters and athletes over social media.
This astounding price tag coupled with mediocre results shines a bright light on the corruption that still exists within Russia despite the opening up of their economy. A somewhat more intriguing fact may be that countries that used to be under the Soviet Union are consistently more corrupt according to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Russia itself ranks 127th in the world out of 175 countries considered (the lower the ranking the more corrupt). Every other country that used to be under former Soviet rule beside the Baltic states fall in the bottom half of countries in the CPI ranking.
Given the attention that is being paid to the corruption in Russia along with the riots in the Ukraine it is an interesting point in time for the former Soviet bloc. It may be the time when the turn is made and they start to resemble truly open and capitalistic societies.