By Andrew Warshaw in Sochi
September 23 - Russian officials are hoping that the choice of Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics will boost their chances of landing the 2018 World Cup as well.
Work has already started on giving the Black Sea resort, a two-hour flight from Moscow and known as the Russian Riveria, a sporting facelift.
With its sub-tropical climate, lush vegetation and long coastline, Sochi is the number one tourist destination for Russians.
But there are big plans to make it a football magnet too.
At present, the local team, FC Zhemchuzhina, plays in the second tier of domestic football in a ground that holds a mere 10,000.
Three years ago the team were bankrupt before being reborn as an amateur club.
Now bankrolled by a local company with a staggering $30m annual budget, the ambition is not only to break into the top flight of Russian football but to eventually move to the city’s state-of –the-art Olympic Stadium that will stage the Opening and Closing ceremony in 2014.
Designed by architects Populous, who are also handling the London 2012 project, the stadium was virtually an empty shell when FIFA's technical inspection team visited Sochi last month.
But such is the pace of change in Russia that it already has a concrete base.
Even the briefest visit to Sochi, reputed to be the longest city in the world fanning out for 147 kilometres, illustrates why it is considered such an compelling part of Russia’s 2018 bid.
The bid committee this week hosted a media trip to the country and made sure Sochi was included, given its unique climate compared to mainstream Russia as well as its proud new status as a forthcoming Olympic venue.
Work on the Olympic Village is well under way, with vast amounts of compensation - in some case up to $1m - paid to residents who were relocated, after considerable consultation, to an adjacent plot of over 100 identical pink and yellow flats and houses.
If Russia’s bid is successful, fans pouring in from Western Europe will be able to combine watching World Cup group games with a beach holiday every bit as attractive as some traditional western resorts.
Although journalists on the whirlwind media tour had no opportunity to view the quality of the hotels and rented apartment that line the shore, a string of luxury yachts - one belonging to the Russian Government and used frequently by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin - told its own story.
At present, scheduled flights can arrive only from the capital Moscow or from Austria and Germany.
Anyone else has to come by charter but that will change within the next few years along with improvements in electricity and gas and better sewage treatment.
"We want Sochi to set a benchmark for the rest of Russia," said Dmitri Mosin who played a key role in the country’s 2018 Bid Book presented to FIFA.
"It’s the northernmost sub-tropical resort in the world.
"Even in the country itself, people who come here wonder if it is really part of Russia.
"It’s important to open up some of our other cities, rather than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, to the world in order to show that the stereotype of inner Russia is now obsolete."