It is nothing new to the world that the 2014 Winter Olympics have recently began in the city of Sochi in Russia. Of course during the time of the Olympics everyone expects grand luxurious accomadations for the athletes, press, and audiences. However the trending topics concerning the Olympics lately have not involved the athletic performances as expected. On Twitter, the trend #SochiProblems has become viral. Posts to #SochiProblems included pictures and complaints about the living arrangements in Sochi including poor plumbing, bad water quality, poorly put together hotel spaces, and other problems making the living spaces less than adequate. After seeing an article on Buzzfeed, I will admit that I thought the article was funny and I too took part in making fun of the situations in Sochi.
However after reading an article criticizing the #SochiProblems trend, I felt ashamed and ignorant about the conditions of other people around the world. In the article written by Sarah Kaufman on the news related blog website PolicyMic entitled “#SochiProblems Is More of An Embarrassment For America Than It IS For Russia”, the tweets about the conditions in Sochi are negated revealing actual problematic living conditions experienced by many people in Russia. One tweet negated was about the condition of the sink water. In Russia people typically try to avoid drinking water from the sink because it can cause serious illness. Some people often have to boil the sink water if they cannot afford water bottles. Pertaining to drinking water, “ Only around half of Russians had access to drinking water that met reasonable health standards in 2002, according to Jean Lemierre, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development” (Kaufman). Also in more recent news to the condition of water in Sochi:
“According to an intensive online report compiled by Putin opponent and anti-corruption lawyer Alexei Navalny, construction giant Russian Railways set up a giant illegal dump for its Sochi railway project near the local village of Akhshtyr, which dried up the whole town’s water supply. The dump’s sewage might also be seeping through porous rocks into underground springs that feed the Mzymta River, Sochi’s primary source of drinking water. So this oversized garbage disposal is probably to blame for the hotel’s ‘peach juice’” (Kaufman).
The article notes that this problem is one that tourist and journalist only have to face for a short amount of time while actual locals have to deal with the problem long term.
Another problem that was negated concerned the poor conditions of the hotel setups. There were tweets concerning debris and coat hangers in the hallways of hotels and how electrical wiring was poorly done and created hazardous conditions in some hotels. The article then brings up the conditions faced while constructing the Olympic village.
“Under pressure to quickly build a glorious Olympic village from a patch of mud, Russian corporations ended up denying their 70,000 workers wages, sanitary accommodations and, in many cases, basic human rights. As Ukrainian worker Maxim told Human Rights Watch about his experience in construction for the Olympics: ‘People work, they don’t get paid, and leave. Then a bus comes and unloads a fresh group of workers to repeat the cycle.’” (Kaufman).
This was not comforting for me to read and I felt that all the tweets about Sochi showed how Westerners can be so ignorant about conditions around the world.
The article raised other issues with the #SochiProblems movement but it is now obvious that there are problems in Sochi that we as Westerners were not aware of at all. I do not mean to come across as saying that all Westerners are ignorant and arrogant, but I feel that we definitely must work on educating ourselves and avoiding criticism without having all the information.
Kaufman, S. (2014, February 09). [Web log message]. Retrieved from
Photographic proof that Sochi is a godforsaken hellscape right now. (2014, February 06).
Retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/proof-that-sochi-is-a-