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2014 Winter Olympics

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Housing horrors hound Sochi Olympics hosts

With the cranes already completing their work, wrap-up construction is all that remains in the mountain region.
With the cranes already completing their work, wrap-up construction is all that remains in the mountain region.
Getty Images

After seven years of planning, coordinating, and constructing, the Sochi Olympics Organizing Committee is now confronting a huge challenge – how to ensure that all registered visitors have housing that they paid for.

As tens of thousands of officials, media personnel, volunteers, and tourists descend into Sochi, many are alarmed by the quality of their housing, assuming they can even locate it amidst construction zones. All along, they have been given assurances that their rooms would be ready for the entire duration of the Winter Olympics.

Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally was among the first to post an article complaining about her hotel room’s condition, “The single room has two lamps which don’t have light bulbs. There’s no phone. The television doesn’t work….”

Other media staff, among the 11,000 expected to cover the Sochi Olympics, have not been as lucky. Upon arriving at their hotel, their rooms were clearly not ready – as evident by construction workers sleeping on bare floors as reported by the AP.

Further, according to a Telegraph story, dormitories for the newly arriving contingent of 25,000 volunteers are still under construction, as these pictures taken by a Russian photographer reveal.

International Olympic Committee staff members, who have conducted periodic inspections in recent months, are now in Sochi for a two-day summit.

During their first day of meetings on Sunday, the leadership was updated on the status of housing. Sochi Olympics Committee officials and contractors have been scrambling in recent days to finish construction of several thousand rooms, equip these with furniture, appliances, and electronics, and then conduct final operational testing.

According to an AP wire, Sochi Olympics staff reported, “Ninety-seven percent of these rooms are already welcoming guests and the remainder are currently undergoing final testing before being available for visitors before the games starts.” These figures are bolstered by seven cruise ships, docked at the city of Sochi, and near the Coastal Cluster, which are housing an estimated 12,000 visitors.

The staff acknowledged that six of the nine housing complexes in this mountain region are not completed.

Confirming this calamity is Oleg Soloshchansky, president of the Inteco corporation that was paid to construct buildings in the mountain hamlet of Gorki Plaza. “The hotels are ready from 90 to 100 percent. We have three days and three nights and we are now cleaning rooms of furniture packaging and also we have some paving to be rearranged,” Soloshchansky said in the AP wire.

As the Opening Ceremonies near, thousands are arriving each day. For those that complain about these dire circumstances, they are soon shuttled to alternative, stop-gap housing – either for the duration of the Games, or for the short-term. Many will need to return to their reserved lodging once it is inspected, so that their temporary rental will be freed-up for those guests who originally booked the room.

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