I visited the Soviet Union in 1991. Then, I could take a shower in my hotel. In Sochi now? Nyet.
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) February 5, 2014
Sportswriters from around the world have begun cataloguing a litany of accommodation-related woes in Sochi, Russia as organizers scramble to finish the construction of some hotels three days before the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics, and two days before some competitions get underway. Journalists have been trickling into the Black Sea resort town all week ahead of the most expensive Winter Olympics in history. Russia has spent $51 billion making all ready for the 17 days of competition, but organizers admitted earlier last week that three of the nine media hotels were not completed. The Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief Shaun Walker reportedthat when he tried to check into his room at midday Tuesday, he was told by a receptionist, “Your room is still under construction. They are literally finishing, the keys are literally coming now.” Three hours later, Walker reported the same receptionist offered him a different room “with no heating, a single bed, and permeated with the [odor] of industrial glue.”
Chicago sportswriter Stacy St. Clair tweeted that she was warned, upon checking in to her hotel, that there was no water, and if it comes back on, not to put it on her face because it’s “very dangerous.” And then:
— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
Glorious Putin water! Seriously, this kind of thing hurts Russia’s image so much because it plays directly into the stereotypical Western image of Soviet-era craptasticism. How do you spend over $50 billion on staging a Winter Olympics, but not be able to get clean water to hotels — especially the hotels where the world’s media are staying?