Here’s background information about the 2014 Sochi, Russia, Winter Olympics. The games were held February 7-23, 2014. The Paralympic Games were held March 7-16, 2014. Facts:Sochi, considered the longest city in Europe (approximately 148 kilometers or 92 miles), is a resort city in the Krasnodar Krai territory. This is the first time Russia will host the Winter Olympics, but the Soviet Union (USSR) also hosted the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. Sochi’s population is approximately 400,000. Location of events - Ice events will be held in a “cluster” near the Black Sea in the Imeretinskaya Valley. The second “cluster” will be for skiing and sliding events and will be held in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains. Sochi will also be a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Venues and Sports Maps Sochi Winter Olympics by the numbers. Controversies:Protests have arisen due to gay rights issues in Russia and conflicts between Russian law and the Olympic charter. Some have called for boycotts of the Sochi Olympics because of Russia’s political alignments. Russia granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum August 1. Snowden has been wanted by U.S. authorities since it was revealed that he leaked government surveillance information to the Guardian. Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin is a close ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syria has been engaged in a bloody civil war since 2011. 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the Circassian genocide, which took place in Sochi. Protestors contend that the Olympics will be hosted on “mass graves.” Environmentalists are concerned about the ecological impact of building structures in such a “pristine” location. The 2014 Sochi Olympics are estimated to be the costliest ever, at $50 billion. Timeline:July 2005 - Seven countries submit bids for the 2014 Olympics to the International Olympic Committee (IOC): Sochi (Russian Federation), Salzburg (Austria), Jaca (Spain), Almaty (Kazakhstan), PyeongChang (Republic of Korea), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Borjomi (Georgia). June 22, 2006 - The IOC selects the final three: Sochi, Salzburg, Austria and PyeongChang, South Korea. July 4, 2007 - The IOC chooses Sochi as the 2014 host during the 119th Session in Guatemala City, Guatemala. In the first round of votes, Sochi receives 34, PyeongChang receives 36, and Salzburg receives 25. In the final round, Sochi receives 51 and PyeongChang receives 47. 2009 - Organizers of the Sochi Olympics say they want these to be the greenest, most environmentally aware games ever staged. June 2009 - The Sochi 2014 Ecological strategy is approved. February 26, 2011 - Five mascots are chosen for the Sochi Games. The Polar Bear, Hare and Snow Leopard are the official mascots of the Olympic Winter Games, and the Ray of Light and Snowflake are the mascots for the Paralympic Winter Games. 2011 - Russian banks begin the release of commemorative coins, including one worth 25 rubles, depicting Sochi Games and mountains. Ten million of these will be released through 2014. October 2011 - Russian court rejects the registration of a LGBT (lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender) Pride House, citing that LGBT would “contradict the foundations of public morality and government policy in the area of protection of the family, motherhood and childhood.” December 29, 2011 - 55,000 workers construct the Olympic buildings; raise $1.2 billion in sponsorship. May 10, 2012 - Three men are arrested in connection with a terrorist plot to attack the Sochi Olympics. February 7, 2013 - Is estimated to be the costliest Olympics at $50 billion. June 30, 2013 - The Russian anti-gay propaganda law, which passes overwhelmingly in Russian parliament and is signed by President Vladimir Putin, bans the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear or see it. Those found in breach of it can be fined and, if they are foreign, deported. July 2013 - Global protests include boycotting Russian vodka. July 17, 2013 - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggests considering a boycott of the Olympics if Putin allows NSA leaker Edward Snowden to remain in his country and if Putin continues supporting Syrian President Bashar al Assad. July 18, 2013 - Leopard cubs born at the Sochi National Park are part of the 2014 Sochi Environmental Strategy for this endangered animal. August 3, 2013 - The U.S. worries that gay American athletes or fans could be arrested, fined and deported. The Russian law says that it is a crime to publicly acknowledge that you are gay, provide information on homosexuality to minors, or publicly support equal rights for gays. The IOC releases a statement that is has “received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.” August 5, 2013 - Eighty-two members of Congress ask U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to “take steps to ensure the safety of gay American athletes” in a letter by Rep. Jarrold Nadler (D-NY). August 7, 2013 - A petition with 320,000 signatures is presented to Olympic heads in Switzerland over Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws. August 8, 2013 - Russian Sports Minister Vitali Mutko states, “The law is not intended to limit or violate the rights of citizens of any country, any religion, any preferences. the law is against propaganda among the underage…I was in Sochi yesterday and all the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected.” August 9, 2013 - U.S. President Barack Obama rejects calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics unless the law is repealed, saying it would hurt American athletes who have trained and sacrificed to make it to the Olympics. “If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker.” August 12, 2013 - Russia’s interior ministry confirms the anti-gay law will be enforced at Olympics. September 28, 2013 - The IOC says that Russia has not violated the Olympic Charter with their anti-gay law. September 29, 2013 - The Olympic flame lightning for the Winter Games in Sochi is a success. November 7, 2013 - The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch is sent by rocket to the International Space Station. November 9, 2013 - Two Russian cosmonauts perform the first ever spacewalk of the Olympic Torch. December 10, 2013 - German President Joachim Gauck will not attend Sochi Olympics. This makes him the first major political figure to boycott the games. December 18, 2013 - The U.S. delegation to the upcoming Olympics will include openly gay athletes. January 19, 2014 - A video posted on a well-known Jihadi forum website threatens visitors to the upcoming Olympics. Two men, believed to be suicide bombers who died in December 2013, say, “We’ve prepared a present for you and all tourists who’ll come over. If you will hold the Olympics, you’ll get a present from us for the Muslim blood that’s been spilled.” January 20, 2014 - The U.S. military will have up to two warships and several transport aircraft on standby under a contingency plan to help evacuate American officials and athletes from the Winter Olympics, if ordered, with the State Department taking the lead, a U.S. official tells CNN. January 22, 2014 - Olympic officials in a number of countries, including Hungry, Italy, and Germany, receive e-mails warning of a terrorist threat to Sochi visitors, according to the International Olympic Committee, but it is not viewed as credible. February 7, 2014 - The opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi is a three-hour fantasia showcasing Russian culture and history, with classical music, ballet, war reenactments and a tribute to the Russian space program. February 23, 2014 - The closing ceremony takes place at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, with a parade of medalists, glitzy dance routines and elaborate pyrotechnics. Russian athletes win 33 medals and American participants claim 28 medals. Norway rounds out the top 3 with 26 medals. March 7-16 - More than 500 athletes compete in the Paralympics, held at the same venues in Sochi as the Olympic games. Russian participants win 80 medals, while Ukrainian athletes claim 25 medals and Americans win 18 medals.