Sochi Accommodation Proves to Be a Disaster

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Friday, February 7th, 2014
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Concerns about the preparedness and safety of the Sochi Olympic facilities already appear to be vindicated by a flurry of live-tweets from freshly arrived foreign journalists, unanimously shocked by the appalling state of their official accommodations.

Foreign journalists who arrived early in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi to cover this year’s winter olympics have availed themselves of Twitter to publicize the baneful state of their official accommodations.

Only six of nine media hotels were ready for guests in the days leading up to the Sochi Olympic opening, with the remaining facilities still under construction.

Those hotels that were ready to welcome accredited members of the press were reportedly in a parlous state, with problems including broken water mains, lack of heating, and insufficient rooms for the scheduled number of guests.

Harry Reekie of CNN tweeted a photo of a hotel room with a broken curtain frame and crude furnishings, noting that it was the only one made available for his news team, despite the fact that bookings for 11 rooms had been made five months prior.

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While Shaun Walker, the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, gleefully tweeted that he had received a room, he also observed that the lack of heating or an internet connection. He later tweeted that the lift of his hotel had succumbed to malfunction after just half a day of usage, and that the door connecting the staircase to his floor, which was an emergency exit in the case of fire, had been locked.

One of the most egregious oversights noted by a member of the foreign media has been the complete lack of a lobby in one of the hotels, as reported via Twitter by Globe and Mail correspondent Mark MacKinnon, who was compelled by its absence to proceed to the bedroom of the hotel owner in order to check in.

Other problems have included a lack of hot water, or a complete lack of water, in hotels, as reported by National Post sports columnist Bruce Arthur and Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair; and door knobs falling off almost all of the hotel room doors, as reported by Grantland staff reporter Katie Bakes.

Stacy St. Clair said that she was informed by hotel staff to refrain from using water to wash her face as “it contains something very dangerous,” while sports reporter Ryan Stanzel tweeted sardonic congratulations to Newsday correspondent David Schwartz for being the only media personality to have “a hotel room that’s ready, with a doorknob that doesn’t fall off.”

sochi water

The shambolic state of official press accommodation may serve as a baneful portent of what still lies ahead for the already controversial Sochi Olympics, belying claims by the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Baach that concerns about the preparedness of the venues is overblown, and that “the stage is ready” for the games to proceed.

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