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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Tale of Two Olympics

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In the last few posts of our series, we have taken a closer look at this year’s discrimination, and crisis of past year’s Olympics.  But what about financial controversies?

We’ve heard it on the radio, seen it on the news, and read it on the internet…the outrageous $51 billion price tag of this year’s winter Olympics in Sochi.  But, what else have we heard?  When Russia won the Olympic bid in 2007, President Vladimir Putin proposed a $12 billion cost for the Games, in part to turn Sochi into “a world-class resort.”  That figure, now $51 billion, holds the record for the priciest Olympic Games in history.

Up until journalists arrived in Sochi, just days before the games began, the word on the street was all about how incredible and immaculate the Sochi Games were going to be.  Numerous event facilities and roads were built, an airport constructed, amazing new means of public transportation put in place, and better accessibility for the disabled was created.

Bode Miller, five-time Olympic medalist said, “The venue, the mountain is world class.  It’s as nice as any of the places we ever go and it’s going to be amazing to host the Olympics here.  I hope they really do as good a job they can, because the Olympics is such a perfect opportunity to showcase a venue, an area, a culture and a country…”

So, did Miller’s hopes become reality?  Not quite.  On Tuesday, February 4th, internet sites and news stations across America were blowing up with posts and re-posts about the conditions journalists were experiencing.  Here are just a few examples.

“This is the one hotel room @Sochi2014 has given us so far. Shambles. #cnnsochi”

-Harry Reekie @HarryCNN

 curtains

“My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, “do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.” #Sochi2014”

“Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I know what very dangerous face water looks like.”

-Stacy St. Clair @StacyStClair

water

“In case there was any doubt about the provenance of this #Russian honey, they kept the bee inside”

-Matt Gutman @mattgutmanABC

 honey

“A lot of complaints about the accommodations. This is the foyer of my apartment. #SochiProblems”

-Mark Connolly @MarkConnollyCBC

 lobby

“On the way to the media center. The street is not quite ready yet. #SochiProblems”

-Simon Rosner @SimonRosner

construction

“To anyone in Sochi: I am now in possession of three light bulbs. Will trade for a door handle. This offer is real.”

-Dan Wetzel @DanWetzel

lightbulbs

Although some are calling them “first-world problems,” these “problems” spread across the Twitter nation like wild fire.  Within the first 24 hours, more than 26,000 tweets were sent using the hashtag #SochiProblems and the Twitter account @SochiProblems was created and gathered more than 53,000 followers.

The media created such an explosion, that two days later, International Olympic Committee spokesman, Mark Adams even had to address the issue in a news conference.

“It’s a bit premature to say it’s been a failure.  They have delivered 24,000 rooms.  Surely there have been some issues, but we are really doing our best.”  Adams also said that he was told “all the rooms have been delivered.  The issues are connecting them to the phones, they need to be cleaned – and it’s a small number of rooms, one to three percent.”

On this same day, Wednesday, February 6th, President of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, started responding to people on Twitter himself.

tweet response

Maybe Sochi wasn’t quite ready for the Games to take place after all… even $51 billion later.  Where did all of this money go?

Now that the Winter Games have begun, numerous articles have been released claiming that the spending of the money may have been slightly corrupted.  A recent report by anti-corruption crusader and opposition leader Alexei Navalny found that Russia paid twice as much as needed to build at least ten of the Olympic venues, and even a governmental assessment in 2012 found $430 million in “unreasonable” cost overruns.

Does that surprise you?  It shouldn’t.  Businessmen with close connections to the federal and regional leaders acquired several of the contracts.  In a classic story of Russian business, companies belonging to Vladimir Putin’s old judo companion Arkady Rotenberg were presented $7.4 billion of Olympic contracts.  As for the rest?  We’ll find out as the story unfolds.

 

Stay tuned…

 

 

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