So the Winter Olympics kicked off last night in Sochi, Russia. By now, most everyone has heard of the laughably poor conditions many reporters and athletes are facing at the games. The problems are primarily centered around the fact that the hotels being constructed simply aren’t finished, and supplies of common items are low. The issues run the gamut from exposed electrical wires in showers at hotels, to city officials confiscating pillows from the Olympics staff members for the use of foreign athletes due to a pillow shortage. Seriously. A pillow shortage.
One flyer read:
“ATTENTION, DEAR COLLEAGUES!
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.”
I did not make that up.
These folks need Amazon Prime. 2 days, pillows delivered to your door.
A quick twitter search of #SochiProblems reveals even more problems, such as undrinkable water that may burn skin, lack of heat in hotel rooms, and lack of phone service throughout.
While many of us assume Russia is a fairly advanced first world nation, it’s interesting to note that Russia is actually a very wide and varied nation, encompassing many regions that range from first world metropolitan centers like Moscow, to areas like the city of Sochi, which is primarily a resort city by the Black Sea near Georgia, which are simply not designed to handle the influx of tens of thousands of tourists, journalists, athletes, etc. who are used to a very different level of development. Nevertheless, Sochi is not a backwoods hick town in some remote region of the world. It is home to over 300,000 residents and a very popular tourist location within Russia in its own right. I suppose a bit of poor planning can be excused if the games go smoothly otherwise. I think we can all agree that some reporters without phone service is highly preferable to the looming threat of violence from separatist and terrorist groups who have indicated they would like to make a splash at the games.
Which brings us to the games.
Traditionally, the United States is not a dominant force in the Winter Olympics. I find that interesting, as it’s not as if we don’t have cold weather regions in the US. I mean, we have the Rocky Mountains, Alaska, etc. And we like to spend an inordinate amount of time and money on sports in general. It’s sad, really, that we lag behind other nations in the winter games (#firstworldproblems). It’s even sadder that to be able to win more than a handful of medals, we had to add pseudo sports such as snow board half pipe. But, hey, if Figure Skating, Biathlon (cross country skiing and…SHOOTING?!?), and Curling are considered sports worthy of a medal, who am I to judge? U-S-A! U-S-A!
So in honor of our Russian hosts who are welcoming the world to their (pillow-less and unheated) doorstep for the next few weeks, let’s raise a glass of vodka and drink to the Olympic Games! Cheers!