Tolstoy's words ring true as Putin goes for Sochi gold

Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:40am EST
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By Timothy Heritage

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Has Vladimir Putin been inspired by Leo Tolstoy at the Winter Olympics?

For all the talk of war from Islamist militants before the Sochi Games started, the Russian organizers have delivered peace. All the drama has been on the snow and ice.

Criticism of the Russian president's record on gay rights, though not forgotten, has melted in the slushy snow as competition got under way and temperatures soared.

Security has been effective but light at the stadiums, with hardly a gun in sight. The brand new facilities have wowed the home crowd as much as the Russian athletes.

The roars from the stands as their nation started collecting medals has, for the time being, also drowned out concerns over the hefty price tag and reports of mismanagement of funds.

"It's a great Games for the athletes," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, a 1976 fencing gold medalist. "I've been speaking here with many, many athletes and I have not heard a single complaint."

Despite early worries about empty seats, it is also proving a successful Games for Putin and his country, desperate to prove it has advanced since Soviet times.

If Putin continues to prove his doubters wrong at the Olympics, Tolstoy's words in "War and Peace" could ring true: "Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait."   Continued...

Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Public Council for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games preparation and organization in Sochi, February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin