Flooding, Mudslides Create State Of Emergency In Sochi During IOC's Final Visit
Russian authorities "declared a state of emergency in Sochi and evacuated a village because of flooding and mudslides" less than five months before the city hosts the Winter Olympics, according to Danilova & Shemetov of REUTERS. Knee-high puddles in the city center "caused long traffic jams after heavy rain," and firefighters "were pumping water from the streets." The regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said that a highway leading to some of the Alpine event venues "was flooded by up to 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) of water, which emergency workers said they were trying to drain." Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov told state TV that "he had no doubt Sochi would be ready for the Games," which open on Feb. 7 and will be "a crucial part of President Vladimir Putin's legacy" (REUTERS, 9/25).
BAD TIMING: RIA NOVOSTI reported the weather problems "overshadowed" the IOC coordination commission’s last visit to Sochi. IOC inspectors "are making their final checks on Sochi’s preparations for the Winter Olympics." Despite the troubles, Russian officials "have insisted everything remains on track for the Olympics themselves, and the IOC commission is expected to confirm that on Thursday" (RIA NOVOSTI, 9/25).