Sochi Winter Tome Change 2014 Olympics

Changing Times at Sochi

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Feb 8, 2014    •    943 Views

At Sochi, (the right) time will be money. But when the International Olympic Committee asked for a time change, Russia refused. Saying it would cost them more than $300 million to switch to “Winter Time,” the Russian organizing committee explained that transport, cargo and broadcasters’ schedules at the 2014 Olympics would be upset.

The issue is prime time. With an optimal schedule, the games can earn more from broadcast rights and sponsors. However, the gap between Russian and European time widened when former President Medvedev canceled the switch back to daylight savings in 2011. While the current gap between Sochi and the US east coast is 9 hours, reducing the time gap with Europe could have affected the number of viewers and also facilitated business transactions.

Actually, time has always been related to money. 150 years ago, the 70 or so different time zones in the US were uncoordinated. Seeing an opportunity to profit, Alexander Langley sold what he called the “right time” to people in the Pittsburgh area. Through Western Union, for an annual fee of $1000, he sent the time to the Pennsylvania Railroad so that they could standardize train schedules. By 1883, the railroads had declared there were 4 time zones in the U.S. In 1918, the Congress agreed.

By contrast, in Russia, today, all train schedules are based on Moscow time–even in Vladivostok, 7 time zones away.

Sources and Resources: This NY Times article from one year ago tells the Olympic time tale while NBC provided an update. Also, for some good stories about what happened when the US lacked standardized time, you might enjoy Keeping Watch: A History of American Time. (Imagine having to connect from a train to a steamship with each using a different source for its schedule.) For the Russians, told by Business Insider, the time changes created technological glitches for millions of individuals and now 100 Russian legislators have voted to return to “Winter Time.”

Please note that excerpts from a previous post on time were included here.

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