Are Journalist’s Expectations for Sochi too high?
By: Jack Ruble
So far in the Sochi Winter Olympics most of what Western audiences know of the conditions of the accommodations are what Western journalists have been tweeting about. The image that they are creating is one of a lack of constancy and overall disregard for quality. This is obviously not the kind of press that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted for his Olympics as a way to put his country on the world map yet again.
With an estimated cost of $51 billion to host the Olympics, five times more than the cost of the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, many journalists came into Sochi with the expectation of a grandiose winter resort located on the exotic Black Sea. However, when they arrived at in Sochi their comments suggested quite the opposite.
“My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, ‘do not use on your face because it contains something very bad,” Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune tweeted. Later that day St. Clair tweeted a photograph of two glasses of water that was restored in her hotel with an obvious yellow hint. Henry Reekie of CNN tweeted on the same day as St. Clair that, “CNN booked 11 rooms in a #Sochi21014 media hotel five months ago. We have been here for a day and only one room is available. #cnnsochi.”
Although this seems like a grim portrayal of the conditions some Wittenberg students who have been to the region think that although subpar, the accommodations are livable. Senior Bob Everett spent the summer of 2012 in the Republic of Georgia, and spent part of his time there in the town of Batumi, only a few miles from Sochi. “At one hotel I stayed at in the region, they gave us a shower curtain as a blanket,” says Everett, “It’s definitely different from Western hospitality, but Westerners should still be able to function.”
From stories of American bobsledders forced to break down their bathroom door because they were locked in from the outside, to hotel lobbies without floors but photos of Putin, the Sochi games seem very much like a disaster. Then again if the Sochi officials were to make anyone’s experience in Sochi pleasant it should have been the journalist according to Miles Evans, head of Perform, a British news publication. “First rule of hosting an Olympics. Keep the hacks happy. Rooms, facilities sound atrocious. #sochi.”