Sochi Scrambles To Finish Hotels For Olympics Ahead Of Friday's Opening Ceremony
Large crates of equipment stand unopened outside the entrance to the plush new Swissotel above Sochi "as it scrambles to be ready for the start of the Winter Olympics," according to Heritage & Pilat of REUTERS. A bricklayer in a woolen hat "puts the finishing touches to a nearby wall, workers in white helmets fix cables and others clear snow with shovels." Inside the hotel, new chairs "are piled on top of each other in the lobby." Swissotel Manager Oliver Kuhn, whose hotel is in the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort, which will host Alpine skiing in the Caucasus mountains above Sochi, said, "We have our first customers coming on February 6. We actually planned to open last month." He said that the opening date had been put back "due to some challenges we had here." Not everyone "is so confident." Some journalists arrived in Sochi "to find their hotels were not ready and have been moved temporarily to accommodation elsewhere" in the Black Sea resort. Others "are staying in barely finished rooms which smell of fresh paint, have no Internet connection and televisions that do not work." When some turned on the taps, "the water was brown." Others "had no hot water" (REUTERS, 2/3).
BACH RESPONDS: R-SPORT reported IOC President Thomas Bach said that Sochi's situation with unfinished accommodation for Olympic guests "is embarrassing for the hosts but only affects a small fraction of rooms." Ahead of Friday's Opening Ceremony, 97% of all hotel rooms have been delivered on schedule, Bach said when asked if he's concerned about the issue. Bach: "I know how embarrassing it is when you arrive and the room is not ready." Citing Russian Games organizers, Bach said that 24,000 rooms "had been completed on schedule, and the outstanding problems would be fixed by Games time'' (R-SPORT, 2/3). The BBC's Anna Thompson reported "work is continuing around the clock at some venues to ensure everything is ready" for the Opening Ceremony. Bach "is confident Russia will deliver a safe Games, with tens of thousands of army personnel and police officers due to be on duty." Bach: "Every big event nowadays is under threat. We have to address this. The alternative would be to surrender to terrorists" (BBC, 2/3).
SNOW DAYS: R-SPORT also reported conditions on the Olympic ski slopes above Sochi are "optimal" after days of "strong snowfall." Russian Olympic Committee Head Alexander Zhukov said, "A large amount of snow has fallen in Krasnaya Polyana in the last few days. Many people worried that there wouldn't be much snow, but now snow is falling every day" (R-SPORT, 2/3).
FIRM PUTS DOWN STRAY DOGS: The AP reported a pest control company in Sochi "has been given a contract to exterminate dogs during the Games." Basya Services Dir General Alexei Sorokin said his company was involved in the "catching and disposing" of dogs. Sochi city hall announced a contract to catch and dispose of stray dogs in Sochi, but "animal activists protested against the move." Authorities "pledged to give up the practice and build animal shelters for stray dogs instead." Activists said that "there is no evidence that a shelter has been built" (AP, 2/3).