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As the sport got under way in earnest in Sochi on Friday, and the first medals were won, the tide of public opinion in Russia and the world began to turn, slowly.

The Sochi Olympics have been tainted by myriad controversies during the buildup — from gay rights to corruption — and many expected the games themselves to be similarly disastrous, with concerns about the intrusiveness of security, the absence of fans and shoddy construction work.

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