Sochi Olympics mishaps began with torchbearers setting themselves accidentally on fire and one torchbearer dying after only 500 feet. Whether it is Sochi hotel rooms without doorknobs, locks or heat, dysfunctional toilets, surprise early-morning fire alarms, packs of stray dogs, or U.S. bobsledder Johnny Quinn getting trapped twice, as reported by KSBW on Feb. 10, 2014, the mishaps in Sochi are continuing.
Of course, with a large event like the Winter Olympics, some mishaps are to be expected. However, after having spent reportedly $50 billion for the Sochi event, which began on Feb. 7 and ends on Feb. 23, one wonders on what Russia spent that money.
Below is a list of the ten major Winter Olympics mishaps as reported by foreign journalists, Sochi visitors, and Olympic participants:
1. Torchbearers on fire
During its record-breaking 40,000-mile route from earth to space to the deep sea -- which started on Oct. 6, 2013, when President Vladimir Putin handed it off in Red Square -- the torch went out 48 times. Three torchbearers accidentally lit themselves on fire. In November, a torchbearer's jacket caught fire as he carried the flame though a Siberian city.
2. Torchbearer dies
In December, 73-year-old Vadim Gorbenko, a sports school director and Greco-Roman wrestling coach, died of a heart attack after having carried the torch for 500 feet. As Reuters reported, the 14,000 torchbearers in the Sochi 2014 relay were not asked to sign releases but were warned that carrying the torch involved some physical exertion and that “their health is their own responsibility.“
3. Technical glitch at the Winter Olympics 2014 Opening Ceremony
The technical glitch at Friday’s Opening Ceremony naturally gained worldwide attention when only four of the five snowflakes transformed into Olympic rings. According to a Yahoo Sports report, Russian TV didn't show the glitch, and rumors that the technical specialist responsible for the Olympic Ring spectacle was found dead with multiple stab wounds in his hotel room was reportedly a hoax.
“So what really happened? The Telegraph talked to Konstantin Ernst, the creative director for the Opening Ceremony on Saturday. He offered a poetic defense of the mishap: ‘Zen Buddhists have this idea that when you have a perfectly polished sphere, you should leave a notch in it so you can understand just how perfectly it is polished. In technical terms the rings were the simplest thing in the whole show. They turned out to be our notch ... This is certainly bad, but it does not humiliate us’."
4. Hotel room water sabotage
Foreign journalists and Olympic participants reported via Twitter that there was no water in hotel rooms or if there was water, “do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous." The water reports were called false accusations and a sabotage to Sochi by Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations. "We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day.”
5. Unfinished streets and hotels
Some Sochi visitors are reporting via Twitter that some streets and hotels are still under construction even though the Olympic events are well under way.
“Spa and fitness center at Gorki Grand hotel…you get in shape by putting it together? pic.twitter.com/jqqOCP9Wt5 “
6. Sochi hotel bathroom escape
American bobsledder and one-time NFL player Johnny Quinn found himself stuck in the bathroom of his hotel room. Left without any other option, the 6-foot, 220-pound bobsledder used his “bobsled push training” to escape.
“I banged on the door and it cracked. And so I hit it even harder and my fist went through the door. So when I saw light from the room I said, ‘Hey it’s time to get out of here',” Quinn said. “…With no phone to call for help, I used my bobsled push training to break out. #SochiJailBreak pic.twitter.com/apZRefgvCO — Johnny Quinn (@JohnnyQuinnUSA) February 8, 2014”
“At that time I was so mad and frustrated I didn’t even have a towel in there. I was just excited to finally get out of there. Once I got out of there and put a towel on, I looked back at the door and said ‘Oh man there’s a giant hole in there. I might get in trouble for this'.”
After sharing the mishap along with a picture on Twitter, Johnny Quinn discovered that most readers considered the incident to be rather amusing. “There are a lot of creative people out there putting a really funny spin on what happened,” Quinn said. “My teammates and I are having a really good time laughing at the comments now that everybody’s safe and the door situation is squared away.”
7. And then there are elevators …
After his Saturday bathroom escape, U.S. Bobsledder Johnny Quinn found himself trapped again – this time on an elevator. On Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, WPTV reported that he and fellow U.S. bobsledder Nick Cunningham and David Cripps were stuck in an elevator.
8. Elevators that only go up …
U.S. Bobsledder Johnny Quinn, U.S. bobsledder Nick Cunningham, and David Cripps are not the only people that had quite an encounter with elevators in Sochi.
Journalist Monika Platek reported from Sochi that being on the third floor in a hotel trying to go down becomes tricky when the elevator shows you only two choices – to go up or to go up.
9. Hong Kong’s only Olympic participant
Hong Kong’s only Olympic participant is a male short track speed skater named Pan-To Barton Lui. Reportedly, his achievement was somewhat overshadowed by a flag mix-up by Russian Olympic broadcasters who allegedly showed his screen shot with a British colonial flag that was retired on July 1, 1997, after the handover ceremony. “Someone in Sochi didn’t get the memo,” reported Beijing Cream on Feb. 10, 2014. The (what turned out to be a photoshopped screenshot) was tweeted by Tom Grundy via @HKCitizenNews .
Of course, before the mishap was reported as having been photoshopped, the screenshot of the flag mishap had gone viral and caused uproar in Hong Kong.
10. Thousands of stray Sochi dogs to be killed
A much more serious uproar is caused by Russia’s intent of killing thousands of stray Sochi dogs. Apparently, Sochi appears not only to be the host to Winter Olympics participants, journalists, and other visitors but also to packs of stray dogs. As The Guardian reported on Feb. 10, 2014, Russia’s intent of killing thousands of stray dogs in Sochi is sparking worldwide outrage.
“Western media has given a lot of coverage to Russia's anti-gay policies, among other human rights abuses. There have been protests and social media campaigns calling for LGBTQ tolerance and rights. But the dog stories – with their adorable photos –stirred a level of outrage that seemed to cross greater political and geographical boundaries.”
The above 10 top major Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 mishaps, some of them amusing and some of them more serious, are indeed a reminder that bringing the world together in one place is accompanied with bringing together some major social, political, and cultural differences. And since those challenges are not enough, nature is contributing some more. According to a Feb. 10, 2014, NBC Sochi 2014 report, Sochi is warm enough for Summer Games.
“On Monday, these Sub-Tropical Olympics really started to heat up with temperatures soaring to 16 degrees C (61 degrees F). That led to skiers in the mountains above Sochi putting snow in their racing suits to cool down, and left ski jumpers landing in puddles.”