The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, closed Sunday with a spectacular ceremony. The story line that developed over the two weeks of action that preceded the closing was not as it was originally written.
In the run-up to the games, pessimism prevailed: Security would not be able to stop terrorists. The weather in a seaside resort town would not cooperate. Russia’s anti-gay laws would provide their own chill. The city would not be ready to host thousands of visitors.
That’s how it seemed at first. Horror stories described hotels with dysfunctional plumbing and authorities killing stray dogs. But the biggest threat of all — terrorism — never was realized.
There were some unpleasant incidents, such as Cossacks taking whips to feminists in the rock group Pussy Riot. But for the most part, the games were the story.
Russian President Vladimir Putin staked much on Sochi and made a big effort to play the gracious host. He will not so easily live down his autocratic image, but he managed to reach out to both the International Olympic Committee and Team USA.
As for the gold rush, the Russians did better than anyone else, with a total of 33 medals. The United States finished second overall with 28 medals.
The world cannot afford too many $50 billion extravaganzas. But this one, at least, peacefully brought people around the globe together.