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SBD/February 4, 2014/Olympics
Bach Declares Sochi Ready For Competition, Despite Unfinished Work On Hotels, Venues
Published February 4, 2014
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VILLAGE PEOPLE: SI.com's Brian Cazeneuve noted the athletes' village "appears set, but while the IOC has been consistent in downplaying reports of budget overruns as costs that belong to structural upgrades of the city rather than Games' preparation, there has been little acknowledgment of just how much money has apparently disappeared from construction budgets through theft and bribery and how much construction remains undone." Unlike previous Olympics, where "most sports venues and accommodations were already in place, Sochi officials built a new city." IOC Exec Dir Gilbert Felli said, "If people have not been put outside, it is not a catastrophe. We don't feel it will be a big issue" (SI.com, 2/3).
LET THE GAMES BEGIN: NBC's Matt Lauer noted these "are the most expensive Games in history but there are indications that not all of Sochi is ready for its close-up." Most of the 41,000 hotel rooms "are brand-new" and still "without furniture" ("Today," NBC, 2/3). CBS' Charlie Rose said construction workers yesterday morning were "racing to finish work" in Sochi and "there is a growing concern organizers won't be ready" for Friday's Opening Ceremony ("CBS This Morning," 2/3).
WORK IN PROGRESS: In N.Y., David Segal in a front-page piece notes "much of Sochi is a work in progress, and parts of it look at least a dozen all-nighters away from completion." Last-minute touch-ups have "been a feature of Olympic Games for seemingly as long there have been screwdrivers," but the "list in Sochi seems extraordinarily large" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Anton Troianovski notes news has been "coming in about apartments missing their kitchens and lamps missing their bulbs." Organizers have been "trying to tamp down worries." Russia Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who has been overseeing Olympic preparations, emphasized that "all the hotels necessary to accommodate our guests have been built" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/4). In Boston, Jack Encarnacao noted "feverish construction continued" on Sunday in "Gorki Plaza -- envisioned as the hub for Sochi visitors -- and some people with Olympic credentials were turned away from unfinished hotels or checked into unfinished rooms" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/3).
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: In California, Scott Reid noted work crews on Sunday were "busy trying to drape oversized banners with the Sochi logo around the miles and miles of mud and rubble that surround the Olympic Park, which was built on a landfill next to the Black Sea." But because "hundreds of acres of landscaping Sochi organizers promised in their bid for the Games almost certainly will not be finished," the Adler district of Sochi could "resemble a 21st Century version of Woodstock with just a day of rain" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/2). Also in California, Jeff Miller wrote if "speed landscaping were a sporting event, the Russians would be making Olympic history." Miller: "I’ll assume everything will look fine and well established by the time NBC turns on its cameras. But I’m not entirely sure how, as powerful as he is, President Vladimir Putin will get those trees to grow for a year in the next four days" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/3). In Chicago, Philip Hersh wrote the "beauty of this landscape is overwhelming." One "immediately understands why environmentalists around the world worry it has been permanently despoiled by Olympic-related construction" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/3).