A guide to the New East
Photography

Lasting legacy: photographer Lily Idov revisits the 1980 Moscow Olympic village

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The venues built for any Olympic Games form a lasting part of its legacy. Photographer Lily Idov revisits the stadiums, arena and sports complexes built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, an event as mired in politics as the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics today; back then, the event was boycotted by 65 countries because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the year before. During her visit in early January, at a time when Russia was preparing for the hugely expensive and controversial Sochi Olympic Games, Idov headed to the Moscow Olympic village to discover that most of the vast concrete sporting venues were still functioning as training facilities or community centres of one kind or another: the Dynamo Sports Palace, for example, currently houses a bodybuilding club, a veterinary clinic and a travel agency. Although Moscow (unlike Sochi) has always been the largest and most prominent city in Russia, the Olympic Games of 1980 played a hugely transformative role for its structure. Construction was not limited to sport centres: the Soviet Moscow had not seen such an influx of international guests since the Youth Festival of 1957, and had no hospitality industry to speak of or any infrastructure to support it. New hotels, restaurants, roads, airports, and even complete new neighbourhoods sprung up. Thirty-three years on, Idov investigates how these monuments to Soviet Olympic hubris have integrated into the city.

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