Winter Olympics – A Transportation Challenge

„From a logistical standpoint, the Winter Olympics is one of the largest freight and shipping nightmares to happen on a global scale.“

As the winter is really coming to an end now and I like winter sports a lot I thought this would be the last opportunity to write something related to having fun in the cold snow. When I was looking for concrete subjects that are related to logistics I found something about the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Sochi 2014 took place from February 7 to February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

From the estimated $51 billion spend on the Winter Olympics about $43 billion were used for the enormous transportation infrastructure. This shows that transportation is a very important issue and a lot more expensive than building the sports facilities itself. To start I will sum up some facts about the transportation infrastructure for humans. One of the most famous projects is the $8.7 billion road and rail infrastructure that was built to transport spectators and everyone involved in the games (athletes and their families, workers, volunteers, the media).  The video shows what aspects the Russian Railways company had to consider when building the Adler – Krasnaya railway. The tracks have a length of about 48.3 kilometers and six tunnels and fifteen bridges were built. Per hour 8,500 passengers can be transported.

When building the railroad the key restrictions that had to be considered were:

  • Safety measures
  • Comfort conditions
  • Environmental control
  • Budget control

But not only humans had to be transported. Also goods like sports equipment, food and hospitality goods, medicines and medical equipment, technical equipment, awards, marketing material and gifts needed to be shipped by sea, air, rail and land from all over the world. To ensure that these goods are transported efficiently the Organizing Committee announced an official freight forwarder for every transport mode. For example Aeroflot was the airline responsible for the air cargo freight. Russian Railways handled the transportation on rail. They were responsible for bringing all goods to one of the two distribution centers which house different kinds of goods. The Olympic game-related goods were brought to the 2,700 square meter main distribution center which was the hub for all Olympic’s logistics operations. All broadcasting equipment was brought to the 8,400 square meter IBC warehouse which was the freight operations center for broadcasters.

But all of these are standard logistic tasks, the transportation of goods and humans. The large scale is what makes it a challenge for everyone. But there is something else that needs to be considered: the weather. If it is too warm and there is no snow Winter Olympics can’t take place. For this reason the organizers of the Winter Olympics in Sochi saved 450,000 tons of last winter’s snow under a thermal blanket. This makes it the largest snow warehouse ever. Moreover they positioned 404 snow cannons.

As the Winter Olympics 2014 are already over the preparations for Pyeongchang 2018 have already started. It will be interesting to see and compare how they handle and logistics and the amount of money they spend.

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