Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Putin's Sochi Olympics - Not Ready for Prime Time

Got to love the sign at this Sochi hotel: Please do not flush toilet paper down the toilet.  Put it in the bin.

There are times that I think Vladimir Putin sees himself as Russia's new Tsar and that the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi are an extension of his overweening ego. If such is the case, events so far would seem to indicate that the Sochi Games have the potential to make both Putin and Russia a laughing stock.  What do I refer to?  The debacle that is unfolding as journalists are arriving in Sochi and finding their hotel accommodations unfinished or in a horrific state without running, potable water and a list of defects that make the local Hotel 6 look like Paris' Plaza Athene in comparison.  The Washington Post looks at the reaction of journalists to their inferior accommodations.  Here are excerpts:
Amid continued debate over whether or not Sochi is prepared to host the 2014 Olympics (here are 15 alarming signs that Russia might not be ready) reporters from around the world are starting to check into local hotels — to their apparent grief. Some journalists arriving in Sochi are describing appalling conditions in the housing there, where only six of nine media hotels are ready for guests. Hotels are still under construction. Water, if it’s running, isn’t drinkable. One German photographer told the AP over the weekend that his hotel still had stray dogs and construction workers wandering in and out of rooms.
The disarray seems to contradict repeated promises from both Russian and Olympic officials that Sochi is ready for the games, despite terrorist threats, unfinished construction and concerns over human rights abuses in the country. The Sochi Olympics have also run way over budget — to a record $51 billion — which seems particularly remarkable when you consider that some of the work isn’t actually done. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has of course denied that, insisting both that the “stage is ready” and that many concerns, including those over safety and construction, are overblown. Meanwhile, Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of Sochi's Olympic organizing committee, had this Twitter exchange with a CNN producer who complained that only one of the network's 11 requested rooms was ready for them.

Here are a few tweets that build a picture:
Harry Reekie @HarryCNN  CNN booked 11 rooms in one @Sochi2014 media hotel five months ago. We have been here for a day and only one room is available.

Shaun Walker @shaunwalker7 I have a room! No heating or internet, but it has a (single) bed at least...

Stacy St. Clair @StacyStClair My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, "do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous. . . . Also on the bright side: I just washed my face with Evian, like I'm a Kardashian or something.
 It seems Putin made a major mistake - he is so used to a government controlled news media that he forgot that the visiting foreign journalists will nor be easily silenced.  Say what you want about the Romanov dynasty, but in its last years Russia was at the pinnacle in the arts and they did know how to put on an opulent, well choreographed show for the populace and foreigners.

The reception of our hotel in has no floor. But it does have this welcoming picture.
I continue to hope that there are no terror attacks and that everyone in Sochi remains safe.  That said, I hope the Games turn into a total humiliation for Putin.

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