With the increasing number and impact of events hosted by cities, understanding the nature of popular support for them and the resulting urban transformations is a crucial task. This paper examines residents’ perceptions of the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, asking how support differs across social groups and what factors predict support. It finds that negative impacts from preparations dominate public opinion, but that there is nevertheless a solid support base for the event. Support tends to be strongest among non-Russians, the younger generation and residents who have good knowledge of the preparations. Perception of positive impacts, in particular expected image improvement, is the strongest predictor of support, while perception of negative impacts shows a much weaker association with support. The paper concludes that delivering on the positive aspects of events might be more important for administrations than minimizing the negative side-effects.