Skiers walk by a construction site ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
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.
Still waiting for "preparations" on hotel room to finish. Hoping they're origami-folding toilet roll, rather than, say, putting the roof on.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) February 4, 2014
I have a room! No heating or internet, but it has a (single) bed at least...— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) February 4, 2014
Got back to hotel. Lift broken after half day in use. Trekked up stairs. Door to my floor (that'd be the fire door) locked. Utter farce.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) February 4, 2014
@bruce_arthur Hotel issues have been happening to a lot of people. Left out on the street, you risk being poisoned or trapped like the dogs.— Wayne Chow (@wayne_chow) February 2, 2014
Miss you, hot water in my hotel. You were great.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 4, 2014
People have asked me what surprised me the most here in Sochi. It's this. Without question ... it's ... THIS. pic.twitter.com/1jj05FNdCP— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 4, 2014
Ok, so my hotel doesn't have a lobby yet.— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) February 4, 2014
For those of you asking, when there's no lobby in your hotel, you go to the owner's bedroom to check in. #Sochi2014— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) February 4, 2014
My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, "do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous." #Sochi2014— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
Also on the bright side: I just washed my face with Evian, like I'm a Kardashian or something.— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
Made new pal from La Presse as we struggled to find hotel. When we got to our (temporary) rooms his doorknob came off in hand #roadtosochi— katiebakes (@katiebakes) February 4, 2014
Congrats to @Dave_Schwartz only media personality who's arrived in Sochi with a hotel room that's ready, with doorknob that doesn't fall off— Ryan Stanzel (@rstanzel) February 4, 2014
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:
@DChernyshenko Our media hotel is not ready Dmitry....11 rooms booked five months ago, only one ready. Please help.— Harry Reekie (@HarryCNN) February 4, 2014
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.