At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze, rabid fans chant “U-S-A” and frantic workers spray paint the grass green.
The least that could have been done is have the grass healthy, or manhole covers on each manhole, or even water that is safe to put on your face, but Sochi couldn’t quite pull any of that off.
Hotels were unprepared, even unfinished, sidewalks were still being lain and bathrooms had peculiar layouts, to say the least. Yet the games must still go on, so the athletes from around the world attended the opening ceremony as usual and headed out to their respective venues for competition.
The United States took gold in the first event as Sage Kotsenburg topped Norway’s Staale Sandbech in men’s slope style before American Jamie Anderson took gold over Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi in the same event.
Even with two homegrown athletes finding success early on, American fans have likely seen more stories about disgraceful hotel appearances than these two Olympic champions.
It is sad that the hard work put in by these athletes has been overshadowed, but it’s more sad that Sochi and Russia as a whole was so entirely unprepared for an event years in the making.
It’s not as though they just found out last week, Sochi has had plenty of time to build hotels, make sure its water was safe to drink and make sure the grass was alive at the very least.
Questions were raised when the city was first given the Games. Now those questions have been answered—and let’s say that Russia has not exactly passed with flying colors.
In the days of Twitter and near-instant media access, one faulty incident will be broadcast worldwide. Make it countless shocking stories, including an athlete having to smash his way out of a bathroom door, and you have full-scale embarrassment on your hands.
But hey, at least nobody has lost their heads, something that could be a legitimate concern at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.
As an avid fan of literally any spectator sport, the Olympics mark some of the most enjoyable times. While the hilarious unpreparedness of Sochi certainly casts a damper on the event, the actual competitions will be the same.
While nobody should brush aside the fact that the city was grotesquely unprepared, they should at least try to focus on the athletes themselves.
Hopefully this can mark a learning experience for Brazil and any other country hosting the Olympics down the line.