But this week, journalists are arriving in Sochi by the planeload, and they’re discovering that – surprise! – Russia isn’t ready for their crooked and slightly dangerous sporting event. Who would’ve guessed!
Bruce Arthur of Canada.com has written the (thus far) definitive Russia sucks missive to the masses. In Soviet Russia, shower… don’t come with curtain?
Sochi? Well, three of the nine mountain hotels have not been completed, and the IOC estimate that 97 per cent of the rooms are ready appears to ignore the little things.
Almost every room is missing something: lightbulbs, TVs, lamps, chairs, curtains, wifi, heat, hot water. Shower curtains are a valuable piece of the future black market here. (One American photographer was simply told, “You will not get a shower curtain.”)
Of course, the Olympics are also the Olympics of the world’s various body odours, depending on your country and its personal grooming standards, so that might just mean that for the first time, we’re all in the stew together.
Hotel reservations are lost, then found, if you’re lucky. German photographer Joerg Reuter arrived in the mountains and found the first room offered to him to be full of construction debris, with yellow-brown water and appliances that didn’t work.
The next room had construction workers still sleeping in it. The third room had a stray dog in it. Reuter was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “When I came out of the elevator, there was the dog. I said, ‘Right, that’s it.’”
(They are reportedly now killing the numerous stray dogs here, which makes every adorable mutt you see the hero of a Disney movie, directed by Quentin Tarantino. At a press conference Tuesday, Sochi 2014 spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said “There is a special service that catches the stray dogs and this, as far as I know, they have a special shelter for the stray dogs, and make a medical examination of them. Like pest control.” It was not comforting.)
But the hotels are where the Russian Games are visibly straining at the seams. In the Ekaterininsky Kvartal hotel, the elevator is broken and the stairway is unlit, with stairs of varying and unpredictable heights.
Outside the Chistya Prudy, there is a bag of concrete in a palm tree, leaking grey down the trunk. Inside, some of the electrical outlets are just plates screwed into drywall.
Meanwhile, the athletes don’t seem to have it much better. Although Olympic living accommodations are rarely luxury ones, you would assume an expectation of comfort. Not so in Sochi. Here’s a tour of Olympic athletes’ rooms. All that’s missing are some Yaffa blocks and Top Ramen (but the sex, the sex will still be there):
It’s as if SNL‘s best skit of the year was created for just this moment hashtag sexinatwinbed. Also:
Yes, it looks like things will get weird in Sochi.
Is it bad that they only thing I can think about when reading this stuff is whether or not Bob Costas is stuck in these accommodations? Like, there’s no way Costas isn’t in a five-star hotel somewhere miles away from civilization, right? It’s sucks, too, because he’s one of the few people that could fit in those little beds, and I feel like he’d recite one of his awesome poems about his experience before signing off one night:
For many years, the Olympic spirit has been embroiled in patriotism, competition, sportsmanship, and maybe even a little good ol’ fashioned debauchery. But in the Caucasus region, with this being 2014, a rejuvenated sense of community has been rekindled within the village as the threat of terrorism looms over our heads. Just last night I encountered an American medalist purging in an unfinished communal bathroom stall. That’s an experience that many of us talking heads missed out during games in more developed locations. In London, I dined with the Queen. In Torino, I sipped wine with Roman Catholic bishops in the Alps. In Albertville, Al Michaels and I purchased a midget hooker to run video tape from venues to the media center. But not in Sochi, where the haves and the have-nots, forgetting, if for just a moment, the wretched conditions, gather and regale with tales of triumph and failure without fear, or even acknowledgement, of their different hierarchical statii or standing in of our man-made social constructs. And in the strangest of strange ironies, it’s taken a corrupt and oppressive communist dictator for us to look inside ourselves for the true meaning of these games: Community. Togetherness. Orgies. I’m Bob Costas. Good night from Sochi.