Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sochi's a Little Roachy: The IOC's Black Sea Blunder

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games hasn’t yet begun—and already it’s an international fiasco bathed in the agony of defeat. Despite more than $50 billion spent in preparation for the world spotlight, myriad accounts of shockingly unprepared hotels and facilities are being tweeted out of the Russian city. But should we really be shocked by this? Russia—either under Soviet control or whatever grade of “free” government presently exists—has always possessed a toothpick-sculpture infrastructure overseen by cold, out-of-touch codgers who have never given a damn about their people’s quality of life.

Complaints and cries for help regarding no running water, stray dogs walking through hotels, hotel rooms not even finished construction, lack of heating, no Internet access, nonfunctioning elevators, and a multitude of other modern-age nightmares are racing out of Sochi.  

Stacy St. Clair tweeted the photo above of the horrifying state of tap water in her hotel. Guests were warned, “Do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.”

Whether it’s doorknobs that fall off upon touch, uncovered manholes, or, according to Greg Wyshynski, trash bins left in bathroom stalls with instructions posted to dispose of used toilet paper in them rather than flush it down the toilet, Russia clearly remains somewhere between a second- and third-world nation.

And all of this on top of the intended state discrimination against gay athletes...

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the Russkies failed to manufacture enough medals and eventually will just give each medal-winner a bottle of vodka. Hell, I’m betting the Opening Ceremony will be delayed because Vladimir Putin is using the Olympic torch to restart the Kremlin’s pilot light...

It’s no understatement to say that the International Olympic Committee miscalculated gravely in granting Sochi the 2014 Games. The IOC would have done far better to select Xochitl (pronounced So-cheet), the fine Mexican restaurant on 2nd Street in Old City Philadelphia. Xochitl has an excellent cuisine and bar, commodes that can handle toilet paper, and even though looking into a glass of Philadelphia tap water might as well be peering into the eyepiece of a microscope, at least Xochitl’s doesn’t make you wonder if Howard Hughes has taken up residence in the kitchen…

And I don’t even want to think what culinary horrors with which those poor unfortunates are being tortured in Sochi—especially when they can be enjoying a succulent spicy brisket taco and a blood orange margarita by candlelight.

Okay, a restaurant self-described as “cozy” might be a little more cramped than a city of 350,000, but having patronized Xochitl on several occasions, I can tell you firsthand that its wait staff are likely far more cordial than, and their service far superior to, anything those unlucky guests currently are enduring in Russia’s largest resort town. In fact, considering all the negative press emanating from Russia over the last few days, Sochi isn’t so much a resort town as a last-resort town.

Once again, the world has erred by not first consulting me…

(Photo of Xochitl sign copyright Michael T. Regan.)

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