I guess that many TRF readers are following the Olympic Games.
Anthony Watts wrote about the attempt by the climate activists to politicize the event. Even the whacko-in-chief of 350.org Bill McKibben has endorsed the petition to fight the climate change.
However, it was only supported by about 105 Olympic athletes, mostly Americans. About 96% of the Olympic athletes silently endorsed the opinion that the climate activists are obnoxious self-serving jerks and scammers.
It is really crazy if some athletes were expecting harsh winter conditions in Sochi.
Someone should have told them that Sochi is one of the most Southern Russian cities and its most famous summer resort. At least that's how it used to work in the communist era. As a schoolkid, I would hear about Sochi pretty often. Apparatchiks would enjoy many of their summers in Sochi. Stalin himself had the most favorite personal summer cottage in Sochi. I understand that the American and other readers may be unfamiliar with Sochi but Sochi, a Black Sea resort, was a kind of the Soviet answer to Florida and California. ;-)
It shouldn't be hard for someone to find the climate data for Sochi. The February temperatures are –12.6 °C (record low), +2.5 °C (average low), +6.0 °C (daily mean), +10.4 °C (average high), +23.8 °C (record high). So it's clearly not like Moscow. Russia is a pretty large country, you know, and not all of its towns have the same climate as Moscow (or Siberia)! ;-)
To compare, the warmest month in Sochi is July; the five temperatures defined above are +12.6 °C, +19.8 °C, +23.8 °C, +28.0 °C, +39.4 °C. Even CNN was able to figure out and "explain" that Sochi's climate is rather warm.
The Russians were surely thinking about the question whether a summer resort is a good venue for the Winter Olympics. Their conclusion was Yes and I think that they were right. If they're able to provide the place with enough good snow and ice, it's simply better to pick a place that has major advantages in the summer. My understanding is that Sochi has lost some of its tourist fame and vitality after the fall of communism. But the chances of other Russian places to become a tourist paradise are smaller still.
Well, I would conjecture that Russia is not terribly competitive in most of these activities – including tourism – mostly because the rouble is still overvalued. And I think it is overvalued because of Russia's relative wealth when it comes to natural resources, especially fossil fuels. The fossil fuels are responsible for a significant part of the Russian exports which implies that the balance only needs a small amount of other exports, and those may therefore be largely uncompetitive.
But I think it was sensible for Russia to invest $50 billion to the Sochi Olympics. If a town except for the capital has a chance not to become a ghost town after the event, it is Sochi. Russia is working hard to attract the wealthy Russians to the Black Sea resort. Sochi is the new Florida again, they are told.