News / Europe

Sochi Olympics Most Expensive, but Not Best Organized

Sochi Olympics Most Expensive, But Not Best Organizedi
X
February 07, 2014 5:19 AM
Organizers of the Winter Olympics in Russia are scrambling to fix problems that are plaguing hotels and other facilities ahead of the Games opening Friday. Some foreign workers say they were operating under inhumane conditions in Sochi and then dismissed without the agreed pay. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Sochi Olympics Most Expensive, But Not Best Organized

Zlatica Hoke
Organizers of the Winter Olympics in Russia are scrambling to fix problems that are plaguing hotels and other facilities ahead of the Games opening ceremonies on Friday. Some foreign workers have alleged that they were operating under inhumane conditions in Sochi and then dismissed without their agreed upon pay.
 
Foreign dignitaries arriving in Sochi include some of the world's top leaders, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. They are sure to enjoy red carpet treatment in the Russian resort, but others are not.
 
VOA reporter Parke Brewer said journalists have encountered a host of problems - the most serious being a lack of Internet connectivity. However, he said, that is not all.
 
"Some of the biggest problems, one experienced by my colleague John Speer as he arrived Thursday midday: when he got to his hotel room -- guess what -- there was another person in his hotel room and that's the second story I heard of that happening. There was another gentleman who traveled 23 hours. He got here at 3:00 am in the morning and got into his room, and there was another man in his bed. So there's definitely been some problems. I talked to a Russian lady reporter who had some mice scurrying around in her room. A colleague across the hall from me got locked in her room Thursday morning," said Brewer.
 
Twin toilets lacking privacy partitions have been the object of jokes in the Western media for weeks. Washington Post Moscow Bureau Chief Cathy Lally found them at the Ekaterininskiy Kvartal hotel, where she is staying. 
 
"A couple of weeks ago, there were a lot of conversations about this toilet because one was seen in the biathlon centre. Then, Russians started saying 'Oh no! It's not really like that. That was just a place where the partition has been torn down because they were turning it into a store room.’ So, they were saying that it wasn't true that there are a lot of double toilets. Well, here we have one,” said Lally.
 
A maintenance worker at the hotel, Pavel Osipov, said partitions are going to be installed.
 
"The partitions and the doors will be installed tomorrow. We apologize to the hotel guests for the inconvenience. This toilet is just not finished yet," said Osipov.
 
However, even if toilet partitions are built, problems experienced by some foreign workers who helped build the Olympic facilities will be harder to solve. More than 120 workers from Serbia and Bosnia were deported from Russia earlier this month. Some of them claim they were not paid, or received much less than the agreed amount. 
 
"I think that the orders were given that all the foreign workers had to leave Sochi for security reasons until a certain date, some say until January 5, others say until January 15. Our bosses knew about it and because we stayed after these dates, they used it as a chance to have us arrested by the police without having to pay us for our work," said Predrag Lero, a Bosnian worker who was deported from Russia.
 
Workers also said their accommodations were substandard, often lacking such basics as electric light in their rooms.
 
Moscow has spent a reported $45 billion on hosting the Games, making these the most expensive winter Olympics in history.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid