Amid continued debate over whether or not Sochi is prepared to host the 2014 Olympics, which begins Thursday, 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:
In any case, the world can decide for itself soon enough. Sochi’s opening ceremony will air Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. ET; the actual events will start the day before.