The 20 Biggest #SochiProblems

Amber Lee@@BlamberrSports Lists Lead WriterFebruary 8, 2014

The 20 Biggest #SochiProblems

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    With the opening ceremony already behind us, the Sochi Olympics have officially begun. Although the competition is starting, the ongoing and ever-growing list of #SochiProblems continues to dominate the headlines. 

    Though concerns about the threat of terrorism loom large as the games kick off, the #SochiProblems hashtag that’s gone viral has been documenting some of the less serious situations facing athletes and journalists in the Olympic Village. 

    Here are 20 of the “biggest” #SochiProblems so far. 

What to Do with Toilets

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    There is a lot of signage in Sochi that confounds the mind, but none more so than this very extensive demonstration of what to do and what not to do on toilets. 

    Do: Sit and use the toilet.

    Don't: Stand and use the toilet. 

    Don't: Vomit into the toilet. 

    Don’t: Do an upper decker into the toilet’s tank.

    Don't: Go fishing in the toilet. 

    Don't: Um…do your business on the floor while holding a bottle?

    That begs the question: Where are people supposed to vomit?

    Other curious signs: Here, here and here.

Packs of Stray Dogs

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    Associated Press

    The roaming packs of stray dogs in Sochi have gotten a lot of press in recent weeks, mostly because of reports, such as this one from CNN's Ivan Watson, that the Russians had been attempting to exterminate them via poison prior to the Olympics. 

    Russia and the IOC both denied the reports. That being said, if it was happening, well then the operation was a complete and total failure. As you can see, they live on. 

    And the dogs actually haven’t been much of a problem at all. Many athletes and journalists have posted photos of the dogs, who seem to be pretty friendly and welcoming to international visitors. 

The Pink Eye of Bob Costas

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    On the first night of Olympic coverage, NBC’s Bob Costas kicked off the broadcast by explaining his surprisingly grotesque swollen eye, which required him to forgo contacts in favor of glasses until it clears up. 

    Said Costas, “According to the NBC doctors here, it’s some kind of minor infection that should resolve itself by the weekend. If only all my issues would resolve themselves that quickly, but that’s another story.” 

    No word on if the infection was caused by exposure to the dangerous brown water in Sochi. 

Dangerous Courses

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    The women’s downhill ski training runs were delayed after just three racers on the first day of Olympic competition. It was deemed too dangerous because one of the jumps was too big and athletes were “getting too much air” according to Pat Graham of the Associated Press (via ABC News). 

    The race was stopped after Italy’s Daniela Merighetti injured both of her knees in the landing after the jump. The three racers will get to start again when competition resumes. 

    The news came just days after American snowboarder Shaun White pulled out of the slopestyle event over safety concerns. He’s not the only one with concerns about the course, which has been described as “sketchy,” but at this point all they can do is hope for the best. 

    In fairness, American Sage Kostenburg faired just fine on the slopestyle en route to the first gold medal of the Olympics. 

Very Disgusting Yellow Food and Drink

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    ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman tweeted out this photo, later reposted by ABC on Facebook, which captured the minds and sickened the stomachs of people all over the world. He said, “Bees in your honey, beer colored water, no flush toilets and the buzz abt #Sochi yuck factor today on @GMA.”

    Speaking of yellow water! Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune tweeted out an equally disgusting photo of that and said, “Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like. #Sochi #unfiltered.” 

Russian Whitewashing

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    Associated Press

    The malfunctioning Olympic rings at the opening ceremony made worldwide news because it was a pretty conspicuous mistake. The malfunction was broadcast, as it happened to most countries, but not to the host nation. 

    According to the Washington Times, instead of airing the malfunction, Russian state television aired an edited version that utilized pre-recorded footage of the demonstration in which things went off without a hitch. 

    It’s hard to imagine this is the first or last attempt by Russia to whitewash the happenings in Sochi. 

Hotel Decor

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    Associated Press

    On February 4, BBC Moscow Bureau Chief Kevin Bishop tweeted: “The reception of our hotel in #Sochi has no floor. But it does have this welcoming picture.” 

    The next day, Bishop provided an update on the situation, “Progress on the front desk front - a laptop and computer for Volodya. Still no floor though.. @Sochi2014.” 

    Featured prominently in both photos was a stately framed photograph of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Obviously much more important than a floor. 

Unfinished Construction

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    Associated Press

    Unfinished construction has been one of the big stories out of Sochi, fueled by tweets from journalists who have been meticulously documenting every exposed wire, uncovered manhole, broken curtain rod and makeshift shower curtain along the way. 

    And that’s just to name a few of the issues with the still-unfinished hotels, some of which are reportedly without lobbies, working elevators or even running water. 

Toilet Proximity

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    Associated Press

    The “twin toilet” story definitely has legs. First reported by the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg via a tweet on January 20, the double toilets in Sochi continue to make headlines three weeks later. 

    Apparently the unorthodox setup isn’t just an isolated incident at the Biathlon Centre, but rather a deliberate construction decision that is found all over the Olympic Village. #Awesome

Bed Proximity

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    The sleeping accommodations in the Canadian hockey dorm are cramped, to say the least. Though the photo only shows two beds, a wider look reveals there are three beds to a room, each separated by a nightstand and about 12 inches. 

    Although the quarters are tight, the Canadians aren’t complaining—they’re just getting creative. Said women’s goalie Shannon Szabados via, “We rearranged our beds so they weren’t side-by-side. I think mine’s in the kitchen right now.”  

    That sounds like a recipe for restful sleep. 

A Lack of Pillows

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    Associated Press

    As reported (and translated) by Vocativ (with a h/t to, a notice to Sochi volunteers at the Games revealed a rather unique problem facing athletes in the Olympic Village and a pretty disturbing solution to said problem. 

    The original notice, which is in Russian, can be seen on Instagram here. Here it is as translated by the fantastic folks over at Vocativ: 

    ATTENTION, DEAR COLLEAGUES! Due to an extreme shortage of pillows for athletes who unexpectedly arrived at Olympic Village in the mountains, there will be a transfer of pillows from all apartments to the storehouse on 2 February 2014. Please be understanding. We have to help the athletes out of this bind.

    Um, wow. Maybe they should’ve just sent out an email a few weeks ago suggesting that athletes travel with their own pillows. That would’ve been more sanitary than collecting them from the homes of townspeople. 


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    Associated Press

    The setup of the toilets in Sochi is awkward and weird, but that’s actually not the worst of the bathroom situation. Not by a long shot. 

    Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski was asked what has surprised him most in Sochi and he said “without question,” it was an instructional sign from inside a bathroom. 

    You can view the photo here, but the sign read: “Please do not flush toilet paper down the toilet! Put it in the bin provided.” #NoFlushingAllowed

Nastia Liukin Getting Yelled at

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    American gymnast Nastia Liukin, who is in Sochi working as a special correspondent for NBC, attempted to have her photo taken on the lawn outside an Olympic venue. In the first photo she was all smiles, posing on the painted green grass. 

    Liukin quickly posted a second photo to Twitter with the caption: “Being yelled at by a Russian policeman telling me to get off the grass… #oops #caught.” Suppose they’re just worried about spectators tracking green spray paint onto the walkways. 

Spray Painting Grass

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    This photo of a woman spray painting the grass outside an Olympic venue in Sochi has been making the rounds via Twitter and Instagram over the last few days. The issue here is just a matter of priorities. 

    If everything else was going off without a hitch, then someone painting the grass for appearance's sake would make more sense. But this seems like a waste of manpower considering the slew of problems in the Olympic Village. 

Unwanted Visitors

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    ESPN’s Bonnie Ford tweeted out one of the more disconcerting photos shared by journalists in the last week. 

    Said Ford, “Update from #Sochi2014 barracks: Arrived back at my room and found door like this: (Clue: I didn’t leave it that way)."

    Wow. Can’t imagine she’s been sleeping soundly. 

Creepy Mascots

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    The Sochi Olympics (for some unknown reason) boasts a trio of strange animal mascots, each one creepier than the last. The polar bear, which Deadspin very accurately dubbed “Nightmare Bear,” is definitely the most unsettling. 

    The robotic versions featured in the opening ceremony are even worse. Dubbed by some as the “Scare Bear,” USA Today reports that NBC didn’t even show the mascots during the television broadcast on Friday night. 

Jamaican Bobsled Team's Lost Luggage

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    As if the Jamaican bobsled team hasn’t faced enough adversity over the years, their luggage was lost on the way to Sochi after raising nearly $130,000 to fund their trip. 

    Without their blades, helmets and sliding suits, the team wasn’t even able to participate in the first day of practice runs with the other teams. 

    Thankfully the issue was sorted out by the next day, and the Jamaicans were back in business by the second day of practice runs. 

Russia Screwing with Our Yogurt

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    This week the New York Times reported on a shipment “of 5,000 containers of Chobani yogurt—now sitting in limbo in the cold storage near Newark Liberty International Airport—that had been bound for the United States Olympic team.”

    Apparently, Russia is denying the yogurt entry into the country because someone failed to submit the proper paperwork. The U.S. basically says no such paperwork exists and that the Russians are making things up just to be jerks about the whole thing. 

    Per the Times:

    The Obama administration has intervened, seeking to clear the way for the delivery. A United States senator fired off an urgent letter to the Russian ambassador, asking for his help.

    American officials are hoping to receive a special dispensation from the Russian agency Rosselkhoznadzor, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, whose jurisdiction includes American-made Greek yogurt.

    Unfortunately, the yogurt debacle has no resolution in sight and it looks like American athletes may be forced to consume non-Greek yogurt in Sochi. 

Widespread Hacking

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    Associated Press

    NBC News’ Richard Engel reported this week on a very disturbing hacking problem facing all visitors to Sochi for the Olympics. With the assistance of a cybersecurity expert, Engel demonstrated just how quickly and easily his devices had been accessed. 

    Said Engel, “In a minute, hackers were snooping around. The same thing happened with my cell phone—it was all very fast and very professional.” His cell phone and two laptops were both invaded by hackers within the first 24 hours. 

Shower Spy Cams

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    Associated Press

    In trying to address (and deny) the reports of widespread plumbing problems in Sochi, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak didn’t set many minds at ease with his explanation of how he knew it to be false. 

    Said Kozak, “We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day." 

    He didn’t further elaborate on the Russian shower surveillance system because an aide quickly pulled him away before reporters were able to ask any follow-up questions. Which is a shame, because that sounds interesting. 


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