MOSCOW – Russia on Tuesday unveiled the phrase “Hot. Cool. Yours.” as the slogan for the 2014 Winter Olympics as the 500-day countdown began to the opening in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“Russia in many ways is a country of contrasts and we wanted to emphasise that in the slogan,” said the organizing committee president, Dmitry Chernyshenko, at a presentation in Moscow.
“The climate is cold but the hospitality is warm. The Olympics are Winter but Sochi is a southern city, and you could list many other contrasts here, so we picked this slogan.”
In Russian, the slogan reads slightly differently: “Hot. Wintry. Yours.”
The “hot” refers to the sheltered subtropical Black Sea resort of Sochi, which has palm trees, in contrast with the “cool” mountains above the city, which Russia is hoping will be thickly coated with snow for the ski events.
The slogan, which was first informally revealed by Chernyshenko on a television talk show on Monday evening, got a mixed reception in Russia, with many people mocking its slightly suggestive wording.
“The official slogan of the Sochi Olympics sounds like an ad for a premium sex line,” wrote Twitter user Sergey Evdokimov.
“The slogan brings up so many associations, but none of them are to do with sport,” wrote another, Nadin Pilipenko.
Lawmaker Robert Shlegel of ruling United Russia party told Russian News Service radio station: “I can’t say it stands out at all or describes the Olympic movement. It’s neither fish nor fowl.”
Russia last hosted the Olympics as part of the Soviet Union in 1980 and its winning bid for the Winter Games was a massive boost for national pride, spearheaded by strongman leader Vladimir Putin.
The construction of the sports facilities is now more than 70 percent complete ahead of the start on February 7, 2014, Chernyshenko said, allaying fears that the project is running behind schedule.
As massive construction work is under way at the Soviet-era resort, ecologists and rights activists have criticized the preparations for damaging the environment and forcing locals out of their homes, claims denied by the organizers.
The Games will be hosted from Feb. 7 to 23.