Your Comprehensive Guide To Everything That’s Going Impossibly Wrong At The Sochi Winter Olympics

02.05.14 5 years ago 90 Comments

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As Keith Olbermann made abundantly clear, Sochi is basically Russia’s Detroit right now. It’s swamped with controversies and complications, which itself is a major complication considering the 2014 Winter Olympics begin there in, oh, two days. The only person who thinks things are going swimmingly is Vladimir Putin. We’ve devoted individual posts to all the #sochiproblems, but let’s round them up.

1. No. Gays. Allowed.

Russia passed a new law last year banning what it termed “homosexual propaganda” targeting minors (Russian citizens under 18). Mr. Putin has insisted gay athletes and spectators should feel “relaxed” about coming to Sochi, but confusingly then commenting that they should “leave the children alone.”

The mayor of Sochi has previously said there are no gay citizens in his town. (Via)

2. The toilet situation is a disaster.

3. The Games are insanely over-budget.

When Russia bid to host its first Winter Olympics back in 2007, the document quoted an expected cost of around $12 billion. However, as the extensive renovation of the city of Sochi has unfolded in the years since successfully winning the rights to stage the Games, that number has ballooned to around $50 billion — more than four times over budget. It will be the most expensive Olympics yet, surpassing Beijing’s 2008 Summer Games. (Via)

4. Dogs and cats are being murdered by the thousands.

Reports have now surfaced that Sochi has hired a company to carry out mass extermination of thousands of dogs and cats leading up to the winter games, sparking outrage from animal rights groups and basically anyone who isn’t a heartless sociopath. (Via)

5. Most of the hotels are either not finished or in complete shambles.

6. The water might kill you.

7. Watch out for manholes (that’s Putin’s campaign slogan, too).

8. Don’t be proud to be an American.

The U.S. State Department is warning our Olympic athletes not to wear their uniforms outside of Sochi’s 1,500-mile secured “ring of steel,” as American officials fear they will not be able to protect Americans in the violent region. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a memo the Olympic Committee sent to athletes, which said that “the U.S. Department of State has advised that wearing conspicuous Team USA clothing in non-accredited areas may put your personal safety at greater risk.” (Via)

9. Cramped rooms that make the Budget Inn look like the Hilton.

10. The slopes are death traps.

Only days away from the beginning of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the slopestyle course will undergo changes. International Ski Federation official Roberto Moresi declared that due to the multiple concerns and complaints coming from the athletes, the steep hills on the course will be trimmed at the top and bottom.

The modification was brought about by an ugly crash during practice runs Monday, when Norwegian hopeful Torstein Horgmo landed hard on his face and right shoulder, breaking his collarbone. He will miss the Olympic games.

Many snowboarders in Sochi have expressed concern about the way the course is set up. (Via)

11. Look out for the Black Widows.

With three weeks to go before the Olympics begin, new threats — and a possible security breach — are placing a troubling cloud over the upcoming Winter Games. A video was posted to a Jihadist website over the weekend, in which two young men take credit for two recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd, and promising more bloodshed in Sochi next month.

And in another disturbing report, police in Sochi say they are desperately searching for Dagestani woman known as the “Black Widow” who may have already entered the city undetected, despite being wanted for her connection to previous plots. (Via)

12. The environment is being destroyed.

Environmental experts warn that the construction of a new road and a high-speed railway has damaged Sochi’s Mzymta River and the fragile local ecosystem of the surrounding Sochi National Park. The dumping of illegal construction waste and the construction of power lines have resulted in landsides, causing homes to sink and partially collapse, threatening residents’ health and safety. In one village, Olympic construction destroyed local drinking wells, leaving villagers with no reliable drinking water source for years. (Via)

13. People are being thrown in jail for swearing.

Vitishko’s Sochi lawyer Alexander Popkov said his client was arrested as he was about to leave the town of Tuapse, 72 kilometres (45 miles) northwest along the coast from Sochi, after formally filing for permission to travel to the Olympic host city. He faced court Monday and was found guilty of swearing at a bus stop, a hooliganism charge. (Via)

14. Corruption runs rampant.

Russian opposition figure and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov renewed his allegations of massive corruption linked to the upcoming Olympics.

In an interview with RFE/RL on February 4, Nemtsov said $25 billion-$30 billion has been stolen from Olympic funds.

He alleged the funds were stolen by officials linked to Putin and his business cronies. (Via)

15. Migrant workers aren’t being paid.

Since 2007, when Russia won the coveted bid to host next month’s Winter Games, thousands of laborers have traveled to Sochi–a Black Sea resort community and one of the warmest places in the country–to build two clusters of venues, packed with over 100 Olympic sites. They came looking for work from countries like Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. But hundreds have since complained about lack of pay, excessive hours, overcrowded housing, inadequate food, and, in recent months, unlawful detentions and hasty deportations. (Via)

16. Families are being evicted from their homes.

About 1,000 families have to be relocated under eminent domain to make room for Olympic venues and roads that are part of Sochi’s 2014 Games development plan.

A letter sent late last year to the IOC by the Human Rights Watch said that “in most cases, expropriation takes the form of a forced sale” that is neither transparent nor fair. (Via)

17. I have no idea.

Banner via Getty Image

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