The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are just getting underway in Sochi, Russia. Long anticipated, they welcome thousands of athletes from over 80 countries around the world to compete for the ultimate honor: a gold medal. When watching from home the Olympics seem so distant, perfect, and wholesome. But thanks to the recent power of social media, we’ve learned that this year’s games have so far been anything but.
Athletes, media correspondents, and journalists from around the globe have been arriving in Sochi for over a week now, and the scene they have been describing on Twitter has been nothing short of treacherous. According to the Washington Post, only 6 out of the 9 planned media hotels are finished, leaving a majority of these journalists left in rooms with broken doors, unfinished floors, hazardous brown water, stray dogs, and never-ending construction debris.
Many people were concerned after hearing that the Olympics would be held in Russia this year considering the country’s poverty and lack of resources. As it is, Sochi has managed to double the record spending budget for the games at a whopping $51 billion. It has left many wondering where that massive amount of money has gone in the last 7 years that Sochi has had to prepare for the Olympics if they are still installing the roof on some hotels on the day of the opening ceremonies.
To be fair, Russia had a lot to live up to this year considering the 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, Canada, a fully-progressed and financially stable first world nation. But that does not excuse them from treating their foreign guests for the most famous and historic event in the world to such desolate conditions. 20 years ago, the vast majority of the Olympics-watchers would have no way of knowing that the preparation has been so poor for these games. But because these journalists have taken to Twitter to complain, it’s easy for everyone to see. They have really put Russia, President Vladimir Putin, and the Olympic Committee in a harsh spotlight, tweeting descriptions and pictures of what they observe showing just how vastly under-prepared Sochi really is.
The controversy has spawned many articles and endless talk in the media, with some even saying that the journalists have gone too far, and are over-reacting and even over-exaggerating. So is social media to blame? Will these Winter games have a sour taste in everyone’s mouth now that they know the ugly truth? Would people be happier to enjoy the mystic and distant wonder of the Olympics while kept in the dark about these conditions? All we know for sure is that going forward, there’s no hope of returning to the pre-Internet blissful ignorance. The truth and complaints are here to stay.
The Washington Post (2014, February 4). Journalists at Sochi are live-tweeting their hilarious and gross hotel experiences. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/02/04/journalists-at-sochi-are-live-tweeting-their-hilarious-and-gross-hotel-experiences/