A Seat At The Bolshoy Ice Dome Costs $25K, Plus More Incredible Facts About Corruption In Sochi

Unfinished hotel rooms and brown water at the Sochi Winter Olympics can be forgiven, but $40 billion in overspending? The corruption games have begun.

A Seat At The Bolshoy Ice Dome Costs $25K, Plus More Incredible Facts About Corruption In Sochi
[Image: Sochi Olympics, 2014 via Singulyarra / Shutterstock]

You may have heard about the broken doorknobs at the Sochi Winter Olympics, or the yet-to-be-built hotels. But all those rookie mistakes might’ve been excusable had the Olympics planning committee stuck to their $11 billion budget. Instead, roughly $51 billion total has been spent on these games–$40 billion over budget.


A new interactive infographic by the Anti-Corruption Foundation in Russia, a nonprofit run by opposition leader Alexey Navalny, reveals all the dirty details of the corruption and cronyism that led to this expensive mess. Calling them “Champions of the Corruption Race,” the Anti-Corruption Foundation reveals how officials and businessmen like Vladimir Putin, Russian Olympic Committee Head Alexander Zhukov, and Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin have turned the Games into a source of illicit income.

Here are five facts about all this overspending:

1. The Adler-Krasnaya Polyana highway is now the most expensive road in the world.

Image via Martynova Anna / Shutterstock

The biggest Olympics-related construction project, it cost a total of $8.7 billion–comparable to the total cost of the Vancouver Olympics. “They may as well have paved it in platinum or caviar,” Boris Nemtsov told the Wall Street Journal. The sum of this 90% overspending could buy each resident of Krasnodar region a new refrigerator, the Anti-Corruption Foundation claims. It could probably buy a lot of new doorknobs, too.

2. One seat at the Bolshoy Ice Dome costs $25,200.

That’s as much as a Toyota Corolla. The Dome seats 12,000 and cost a total of $302 million, 2.6 times over budget, but no government officials have raised any questions about this rampant overspending.

3. The Gornaya Karusel cost $2.45 billion.

Gornaya Karusel–literally, Mountain Circus–cost as much as 8,000 playgrounds to build. As prices for the ski jump kept swelling, the builders–Akhmed Bilalov, VP of the Russian Olympic Committee, and his brother, Magomed–were eventually fired and charged for “abuse of office,” and fled abroad.

4. The Sochi Media Center cost $1.2 billion (or enough to buy a MacBook for every 2013 high school graduate in Russia).

The Media Center, a two-story building where 8,000 journalists are working during the Games, might have been doomed from the start when construction began without permission from state inspectors. Then, the chief engineer working for the contractor was put in prison for fraud. Finally, a worker sewed his mouth shut in protest after not being paid for two months. More than 100 workers had been hired without labor contracts, and had to demand pay in court.


5. The $64.2 million road to the VIP resort Lunnaya Polyana was most likely built for Putin.


It also resulted in the shameless razing of endangered trees. Of course, officials say the road leads to a meteorological research station that monitors climate change during the Olympics, but this research station happens to be quite close to the residence of the President, whose office ordered its construction back in 2002. The resort is equipped with two cable cars, a ski lift, a sauna, a tennis court, snowmobile trail, and two helicopter pads.

Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician, estimates that $30 billion of the sum Russia spent on the Olympics was lost to corruption. For more of the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s expose of Sochi-related hijinks, go here.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.