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The Full Guide To Absurd Sochi Failings

Courtesy: US State Department
February 05, 2014

A number of embarrassing events unfolding in Sochi are leading to a disastrous roll out of this year’s Winter Olympics.  From political distractions, terrorist threats, water problems, and tweets from reporters about the horrible conditions of hotels, here is a compilation of some of the most embarrassing stories coming out of Russia leading up to the opening ceremonies on Friday.  We put together this user’s guide of all the problems unfolding as the eyes of the world come down on Russia.


Check out these tweets from reporters on the ground who ran into some problems with their hotel rooms!














Then there was this embarrassing event that has unfolded in Sochi.  After injuring his wrist during a practice run, US athlete Shaun White has decided to drop out of the dangerous course, saying he will not compete at that event.  This is a striking blow to the Olympics after a series of injuries on the course.  It does not appear that Olympic officials will change the course prior to the event.


Here’s another feather that we can take out of the Sochi Olympics’ cap: After injuring his wrist while on a practice run on the slopestyle course yesterday, Shaun White has decided to pull out of the event altogether. This is the first time slopestyle has been included as an Olympic event, and it just lost the sport’s biggest star.

Of course, White’s decision is at least in part the result of Sochi’s failures. The slopestyle course is particularly treacherous, and has already caused serious injuries to a few Olympic riders. Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, who was a medal hopeful, was forced to pull out of the competition after breaking his collarbone during a practice run on Monday. On Tuesday, Finnish rider Marika Enne was carted off the course with a concussion.

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Then there is this story, which details the problems of Olympic Village and the challenge reporters have faced as there were no rooms available, sewage came out of the faucet, and keys were left in a hotel door.  All this excitement and we haven’t even seen the excitement of the games yet!


I had yet to eat my breakfast this morning when someone regaled me with a story about a guy staying up in Sochi’s mountaintop media hotel cluster who turned on his faucet and watched as sewage spilled out. Last night, a colleague returned to her room after a long day of work to find the door swung open, a set of keys still dangling from the lock. Nothing was stolen, but a TV had finally been installed. It could have been worse: The door to one guy’s room was supposedly kicked down by workers trying to put in a cable box.

The tales from the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics go on and on: hotel reservations vanishing, shower rods and curtains nowhere to be found, workers heaving small decorative palm trees off the back of a moving truck and onto the side of the road like paperboys on bicycles.

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 Of course, no guide would be complete if it didn’t have a detailed analysis of the unique toilet setup in the bathrooms in Sochi.  Check out this analysis of the bizarre toilets!


So you want to poop in Sochi. One of the unexpected highlights of the lead-up to the Olympics has been the discovery that many of the bathrooms in and around Sochi are, shall we say, Russian Unorthodox. If you or a loved one are heading to the Olympics, you may need a primer. Allow us to help.

The Russians, with their fatalist sense of humor, have embraced the chaos. Holding it up as emblematic of corruption or incompetence, Sochi toilets have become something of a meme on Russian social media. (I’m not sure who created the image above, which makes a pun by mashing up Sochi and the Russian word for taking a crap. I found it here first, and if anyone can decipher the signature or point me in the direction of the creator, it’d be appreciated.)

But the Sochi toilet meme has led to confusion. Russians are posting any old photo of bizarre bathrooms and claiming they’re from Sochi. So first let us weed out the impostors.

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All these problems are quickly adding up, but they only add fuel to the fire of initial complaints from the world community.  Russia’s position on gay rights, the high threats of terror that are making headlines on a daily basis, and the huge environmental impact of the Games has given many legitimate criticisms of the Sochi Games.  Here is the play by play of some of those problems


In the lead-up to the Sochi Olympics, which officially begin on Feb. 7, there’s been no shortage of anxiety about the potential problems that could mar these Winter Games.

Major tensions over gay rights in Russia have been one source of concern. The Games’ environmental impact — and Russia’s honesty about that impact — is also high on the list. Threats from terrorists have worried some. There have also been doubts about whether Sochi’s infrastructure will be ready to host the influx of fans, athletes and media the city is about to receive.

Most of those questions won’t be answered for at least two weeks. But reporters just arriving in Sochi have posted a stunning array of photos and tweets over the past couple days. The images are not a good omen for the thousands upon thousands of people yet to arrive.

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Finally, there is this report from Olympic Village, the place where the Olympians themselves stay.  One problem for the athletes: apparently they have to fight to get pillows due to a shortage.  This has caused major tensions between the local staff and athletes from around the world.  After all, if you’re going to be competing for a gold medal, you should at least be able to sleep on a pillow the night before the big day.


There is a quiet war being waged between newly arrived Olympic athletes and members of the games support staff. At stake? The precious few pillows extant in Sochi.

On Sunday, Luiza Baybakova, a member of the catering crew, posted this to Instagram. It is a notice tacked up in a building housing Olympic volunteers:


Due to an extreme shortage of pillows for athletes who unexpectedly arrived to Olympic Village in the mountains, there will be a transfer of pillows from all apartments to the storehouse on 2 February 2014. Please be understanding. We have to help the athletes out of this bind.”

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I hope you enjoyed this lovely guide of the great deal of issues challenging Russia’s games before they have even started!  Needless to say, things can only go up from here, right?