February 6, 2014

Let's just hope the hilarious badness stays at the merely hilarious level.

"15 signs that Russia is not very ready for the Olympics."

It's already not really funny. I feel bad for the athletes who trained for this.

Here's the #SochiProblems feed at Twitter.

82 comments:

Nonapod said...

Russia getting Sochi ready for the Olympics is not unlike an ex-con scrabbling to get his apartment cleaned up before his parole officer arrives.

rehajm said...

Signs...

15. Russian Olympics officials are not really controlling the story

This says more about the folks at The Washington Post than about the Russian Officials.

16. Matt Lauer.

jacksonjay said...

I too feel sorry for athletes!
I feel sorrow for the parents and loved ones who spent a fortune to pay for said training! (Many are no doubt in debt!)
The sacrifices are unbelievable!
The skater who told his parents not to come because he feared for their safety!

I can't wait to hear what Tom Friedman has to say about this trainwreck!

MadisonMan said...

The problem is that the people dealing with the disappointments of visitors are not the people responsible for the problems.

If the Intl News articles all painted Putin in a bad light, that would be a good thing. It was his bribery that brought this fiasco to Russia.

Hagar said...

I wonder why there is this concerted effort in the media to talk down the Sochi Olympics. It would appear the Russians have enough problems with it without the piling on.

lemondog said...

I recognize that the Olympic Committee makes these decisions well in advance of the games, but its rationale should be examined.

The Olympic Committee in 2008 could not resist the compulsion to send athletes into a highly polluted environment.

Number 7. is enuff to deter me from watching.

chickenlittle said...

The best way to help is to watch the athletes on TV and support the sponsors who support the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

This is a phony scandal. Considering all the Rethuglican obstructionism, they did well to be this close to ready. Besides, the unfinished buildings are a great opportunity for the athletes to build their strength by helping finish them. Which talking point are you Rethugs going to switch to next month, when all the facilities are finished? #SochialistRealism

CWJ said...

As usual, MadisonMan provides good copy.

"It was his bribery that brought this fiasco to Russia."

But also that the International Olympic Committee is and has always been so open to bribery.

"The problem is that the people dealing with the disappointments of (Obamacare) are not the people responsible for (Obamacare)."

Off topically fixed it for us. Forgive me. Couldn't help myself.

rhhardin said...

Chernobyl was not available.

SGT Ted said...

Russia and the USSR were always about faking national greatness.

Seeing Red said...

Personal embarrassment for Putin.

He allowed too much graft.


Brazil will very interesting.

Seeing Red said...

Personal embarrassment for Putin.

He allowed too much graft.


Brazil will very interesting.

Henry said...

Will Leitch at SportsOnEarth has a helpful corrective:

all told, it's really not that horrible here. The journalist complaints about their facilities have already crossed over from legitimate (and sometimes scared) concerns about Sochi's readiness to host this global event into the oddly reassuring realm of banal media whining and are unlikely to turn back. Sochi isn't 100 percent ready, but it's not a cesspool either.... All told, the inconveniences of Sochi seem like a larger problem from outside than they do from inside, and one could argue they're being magnified by a rubbernecking social media gaggle openly reveling in Sochi Ruin Porn, concern-trolling disguised as Europhobia disguised as a good old-fashioned Internet pile-on.

traditionalguy said...

The Olympics is not worth the attention it gets.

Irene said...

Another "Miss-Me-Yet" moment for Mitt.

Hagar said...

Amen.

This smacks of Journolist, but I do not understand what the motive might be.
Should think it would be politically insignificant to any faction I can think of, whether the Russians can pull off a relatively successful winter Olympics, or not.
Except the Chechnyan jihadists, of course, but the Journolists surely are not joining up with them?

Sigivald said...

It's already not really funny. I feel bad for the athletes who trained for this.

I don't, particularly.

The Olympics have been a bad joke for decades.

Replace them with a non-nationalist athletic competition modeled on the original, and all of this posturing stops, and the athletes can, well, be athletes.

Freeman Hunt said...

You'd think Russia didn't know it would be hosting the Olympics. It's as if the Olympics dropped by for an impromptu visit.

chickenlittle said...

Is it just possible that some of the negative tweeters carry a big grudge against the Russians for certain things they stopped talking about for unknown reasons?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

On the subject of Putin and the IOC, Frank Deford (NPR's sports commentator) was pretty damn devastating yesterday morning.

Levi Starks said...

I love the smell of communism in the morning....

n.n said...

A lot of speculation and bias in such a short report. Russia, or is it Putin, is the unpopular dissenter. Well, join the club. The Washington Post does not favor Russians in Russia. It does not favor Americans in America. The administration must still be bitter after losing the Syrian gambit. JournoLism has really suffered under progress.

Hagar said...

Time for some traffic problems in Sochi?

Illuninati said...

I'm rooting for the Russians. They were devastated by Communism. It will probably take several generations to recover from the damage.

JRoberts said...

I believe George Will once said that Russia is little more than a third world country. Unfortunately, it also has nuclear weapons.

EDH said...

Why the media pile-on Russia? Let's see. Gays. Obama(care) fiasco foil.

Freeman Hunt said...

Why does anyone feel instinctually protective of Russia? Putin is horrible. Remember all the people he killed who opposed him? Why does anyone like him? He's terrible.

Lyle said...

Yeah, the piling on of Russia looks bad. The Olympics are not about negativity regardless of the imperfections of the venue.

We live in a diverse world and not every place is like Aspen or Vail. People still live in less than great circumstances the world over. Time to fully appreciate this folks. Reality is what it is.

Lyle said...

MadisonMan makes a good point. The IOC corruption involved in placing the games where they place them is an big issue that gets bribed out of the news.

Freeman Hunt said...

Never forget Litvinenko.

Deirdre Mundy said...

From what I've heard, Russia is just not up to US standards for hotels. It's worse than Europe, and Europe is pretty awful if you're not in a 4-star place. (Shared bathrooms and the like..)

So, the problem could be sports reporters who are used to staying in the Holiday Inn express as a 'down market' hotel... When Holiday Inn Express is actually luxurious by most of the world's standards.

It's like when I was working in a library that got one of those British gossip magazines every week. One week's feature was 'inside the luxurious bathrooms of the royal family!' Someone had gotten a job as a maid and then photographed the bathrooms.

Awful. Tubs with no showers, cramped... CARPETED in some nasty stuff from the 70s, tiny sinks, no counters.... in a US home, these bathrooms would have been 'need a major remodel or this house will never sell.' By British standards, they were luxurious.

We Americans don't realize how great our homes/hotels/etc. are...

chickenlittle said...

So, the problem could be sports reporters who are used to staying in the Holiday Inn express as a 'down market' hotel... When Holiday Inn Express is actually luxurious by most of the world's standards.

True. The Olympics is not about "4 star accommies, natch" or swish bars for meet-ups -- it's about the athletes and their competitions. If their accommodations are substandard, by all means lets hear about it.

As for dissing Putin, I don't recall complaints about the repressive Chinese government or any other regime hosting the Olympics.

Just air the real grievances instead of making them up.

Now go buy some Stoli...
...Nastrovia!

Paul said...

People never recover from socialism. It pummels the human spirit and leaves people listless and cynical.

We're well on the way...already past the event horizon, so to speak.

Freeman Hunt said...

Litvinenko was in the U.K. when they killed him.

Birches said...

We live in a diverse world and not every place is like Aspen or Vail. People still live in less than great circumstances the world over. Time to fully appreciate this folks. Reality is what it is.

Yes. When the reporters were whining about not being able to flush toliet paper, I thought, "Wow. You guys don't get out very much do you?" I've encountered bathrooms like that in nice areas in France.

Freeman Hunt said...

Would anyone have defended China if the facilities had been so poor? I hope not.

Hagar said...

No. This has been going on for weeks reported by "our special correspondent" in London, Singapore, Ulan Bator, or wherever, though they seem to have had access to the same film clips and editors, and consisting mostly of speculation and dire predictions, since hardly anyone had actually got to Sochi yet.

Hagar said...

Yes, Freeman, but this is supposed to be reporting on the Winter Olympics, not editorializing about the Russian government.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Olympics have given the Russian government a huge propaganda platform. It's perfectly within bounds to point out that Russia is blowing it.

n.n said...

Freeman Hunt, who did he kill?

Birches said...

Too bad Russia is not as authoritarian as China; then we could ignore the horrors of their government the way the press did in China.

When 16,000 athletes and officials show up this summer, they will be able to turn the taps and get drinkable water — something few Beijing residents ever have enjoyed.

Fritz said...

It's probably better that Chicago didn't get the 2016 Olympics. They can't even build a website in four years.

Freeman Hunt said...

No one remembers these events from when they were going on?

Freeman Hunt said...

What does China have to do with anything? I would hope that China would have been hammered if it had been so unprepared. It would have been a great opportunity.

Freeman Hunt said...

Is this related to some Obama thing? Is there an Obama versus Putin thing going on? I can't imagine any other reason that any fellow lovers of liberty would show any support whatsoever for Putin's Russia.

Hagar said...

Freeman,
If you (as a newspaper owner or editor) feel that the Russian government is just awful and never should have been allowed to host the Olympics, that is perfectly OK to express on the editorial page, but a reporter should report Joe Friday style, "Just the facts, ma'am."

Shading the reporting depending on whose policies the reporter favors is just what we steadily - including you - complain about on this blog.

Birches said...

You brought up China, Freeman.

I don't think the ability to trick Americans into thinking a country has a better standard of living (by providing flush toilets, fancy hotel lobbies, etc. for the bourgeoisie) than it actually has is the reason to start dumping on it. China pulled off a great Olympics because its so authoritarian. Forced labor to build Olympic village, but as long as it turns out alright, no one bats an eye.

Dump on Putin all your want; he's an awful person. I believe he did assassinate that guy in the UK. But those issues are not related to whether or not I think its silly Mr. Important Journalist is horrified to find out he can't flush his tp. It smacks of "let them eat cake."

n.n said...

Freeman Hunt:

Chechnya, perhaps. They employed excessive means in order to settle an internal conflict of interests. The other cases may be presented as circumstantial evidence in a trial, but they do not directly implicate Putin.

That said, the issues raised by this article can be judged separately. The amount of circumstantial or purely speculative evidence is overwhelming. This calls into question the journalists' motives.

As for the facilities, they only need to be adequate. Hopefully, they can control the costs so that more people will be able to attend the games.

Anonymous said...

Can't build an Olympic village but can build tanks, combat aircraft, and ICBM's.

Above was to preempt the 'Russia is not a threat because they can't even put on an Olympics'.

Hagar said...

Well, actually, the major news organizations all have had a number of reporters stationed in and travelling around in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union 24 years ago, and they should be, and are, fully aware that Russia still has a long ways to go before they even catch up to western Europe, never mind the USA.

Also, it seems that their Winter Olympics could have benefitted from a Mitt Romneyev with powers to match the kleptocracy, so that is a legitimate criticism.

But the alphabet soup certainly did not just discover this to their great amazement on this last January 1!

Birches said...

@ Henry

Really enjoyed the Sports on Earth article.

Lydia said...

From a Russian-American journalist:

"There's a fine line between fair criticism and schadenfreude, and the Western press has been largely well on the side of the latter. I'd also argue that there's something chauvinistic, even Russophobic in it. The Europeans may not be ready for their Olympics, but, okay, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best. The Chinese prepare for theirs ruthlessly, but we don't understand them so whatever. We railed on Romney for daring to criticize the preparedness of our British friends, and we wrote in muted tones about Athens not being ready in time for their Olympics, but with the Russians, we gloat: Look at these stupid savages, they can't do anything right.

Within hours of arriving in Moscow yesterday, Russian friends, even the Westernized ones, those who are openly, viciously critical of the Kremlin, have expressed their hurt at the Western blooper coverage of Sochi. A whole lot of their tax money has been spent on something they may not have wanted and in ways they find criminally wasteful, and, yes, their government has not done much to endear itself to the West of late, but they're puzzled by why the Americans and the British are so very happy that the details are a little screwy, the way they generally are in Russia.

The word they use is zloradstvo, literally: evil-reveling."

Hagar said...

Good point about China.
Given the even greater upheavals over a short time in China, and the even greater differences in historic "local customs," there must have been a large number of similar things to criticize at the Chinese Summer Olympics, but as I remember it, the reporting was largely positive and the deficiencies ignored.

So, I think something else is going on here, and it is not just schadenfreude.

glenn said...

I hate to tell you this folks but in the category of defining a project, setting reasonable goals, measuring progress and completing on time and under budget we ain't so ******* much either. See Obamacare. Or the new Bay Bridge from Oakland to SF.

Smilin' Jack said...

"Miss me yet?"--Stalin

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Freeman Hunt, you should see the comments to the Frank Deford piece I linked. Many people denouncing Deford, usually as someone who just can't give up the Cold War.

EMD said...

I can't wait to hear what Tom Friedman has to say about this trainwreck!


"The Beijing Summer Games were perfect!"

-Tom Friedman.

Lydia said...

Russians have always been extremely sensitive about being seen as second-best alongside the West. Think of all those Russian aristos speaking French in Chekhov. Or Peter the Great trying his best to outshine his Western counterparts with St. Petersburg.

What we see as ridicule of Putin, the Russians see as ridiculing them as a people.

n.n said...

Hagar:

Chinese progress cannot be criticized.

China subsidizes America's "great society" program through debt purchases for purposes of redistributive change, cheap manufacturing to control cost of living, and unseen environmental degradation to assure the viability of "green" technology.

Before China, there were other nations, which helped contain the costs and consequences of progressive inflation and demands for instant gratification.

Then, of course, there is the population control protocol, which reduces human life to a commodity. Whether China's involuntary measure, or America's rationalized voluntary alternative, the abortion industry is critical to the marginal (i.e. short-term, perceived) success of this program.

On the other hand, Russia posed an obstacle in Africa, as did Libya, and still poses an obstacle in the Middle East, by way of Syria, for both European and some American interests.

Anyway, the speculation and allegations in The Washington Post's report are biased and thus unproductive. We can, ironically, speculate that they are motivated by recent and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Asia.

Clyde said...

Maybe next time they should hold the Olympics in a developing country like Brazil. Oh, wait...

chickenlittle said...

Lydia noted: We railed on Romney for daring to criticize the preparedness of our British friends, and we wrote in muted tones about Athens not being ready in time for their Olympics, but with the Russians, we gloat: Look at these stupid savages, they can't do anything right.

You are very good at what you do. I admire that.

Lydia said...

Those weren't my words, they were by the Russian-American journalist I quoted.

Clyde said...

Has Nancy Pelosi been moonlighting over there? Seems very ObamaCare-y, doesn't it?

chickenlittle said...

@Lydia: Fair enough. But you read them and brought them here, so there's that.

Freeman Hunt said...

I said the British Opening was pathetic, and it was. So no, not everyone who criticizes Russia defended the British.

Birches said...

I was just thinking about that NHS lovefest in the middle of the Opening Ceremonies. Propaganda at its finest.

Hagar said...

It is not just the WaPo; the tone of the criticism is uniform across the MSM. That can't be by accident.

campy said...

"It is not just the WaPo; the tone of the criticism is uniform across the MSM. That can't be by accident."

You didn't really believe Journolist disbanded, did you?

Freeman Hunt said...

Birches, I didn't bring up China. It was brought up farther back.

I am well aware of the badness of China as regards the Olympics. Regardless, China being horrible doesn't make Russia not horrible.

Too bad if Putin doesn't like that!

Freeman Hunt said...

If the media is getting together to hammer Putin, we should be thanking them. Usually when they get together, they're advocating for something stupid, such as electing Obama.

On Putin being crummy, we should all be able to agree.

I hope he fails. I hope his whole way of governance fails.

Birches said...

But do you really feel like they're hammering Putin?

Aside from the corruption angle and the idea that the Russian controlled media hasn't kept things under control, it seems like the rest of the article was a bit of "Oh, look at those stupid Russians. We're so much more civilized than they are . . . "

Matthew Sablan said...

"Remember all the people he killed who opposed him? Why does anyone like him? "

-- Well, look what he did the people who didn't.

wildswan said...

I've heard that the athletes quarters and the various facilities are OK. Maybe the Russians are sending a message to journalists.

PS I'm not a Putin fan (though he sings a great Blueberry Hill, you can see it on Youtube). But I think the Olympics might be better than the journalists' quarters and I really hope so

Freeman Hunt said...

The tweets point to bureaucratic incompetence, not lack of Russian civilization.

Steven said...

Apparently, Putin's Russia can't manage to build a Potemkin village.

Jon said...

Freeman said: Why does anyone feel instinctually protective of Russia? Putin is horrible. Remember all the people he killed who opposed him? Why does anyone like him? He's terrible."

If you want to know why his own people like him (his approval rating is 65%), it's because when he took over, Russia was a basket case, and while it is still a poor country, by every economic and demographic measure things have gotten much better on his watch.

Per capita GDP has doubled, and Russia's economy has risen from the worlds 10th largest to 5th largest.

Life expectancy has risen from 63 to 69 (note that represents many thousands if not millions of lives saved), and the fertility rate is rising too, from 1.2 to 1.7. Last year Russia had more births than deaths for the first time since the end of the USSR (in fact, in 2013 more babies were born per capita in Russia than in the USA).

And as backward as Russia remains in many ways, remember that when NASA wants to send Americans into space, they have to hitch a ride on a Russian rocket.

Putin's not a nice guy (although I don't believe there's any proof he actually gave the order to murder anyone), but his policies have greatly improved the quality of life for 140 million people. Also, he happens to be on the right side in both fighting Muslim extremism, and defending Christianity and traditional morality against radical secularism.

Anyway, even if you hate Putin, he's not being hurt at all by the piling-on of Western journos who obviously came to Sochi looking for problems to mock: It's just causing Russians to rally around him, as they understandably take the bashing as an insult to their country.

Here's an article about how Russians are reacting, written by a Russian-American woman who is not a fan of Putin:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116507/russians-hit-back-west-cool-it-olympic-schadenfreude

Steven said...

Yes, yes, yes, the Russians are patriotically rallying as a result of the serious wound to their pretense at self-respect caused by pointing out reality.

The actual news would be if they, as a culture, stopped acting like adolescents. How many damn centuries do they need to grow up?

chickenlittle said...

Steven exclaims: The actual news would be if they, as a culture, stopped acting like adolescents. How many damn centuries do they need to grow up?

Where is that animus coming from? Is it just the gay thing? If so, just state it loud and clear. Don't obfuscate and condemn an entire culture. Sheesh.

Fen said...

chickenlittle has it right - this is a coordinated JournoList 2.0 attack on Russia over the gays.

Steven said...

It has absolutely nothing to do with the gays, chickenlittle. It has everything to do with the fact that the Russians are being utterly, predictably Russian.

As was pointed out, "the details are a little screwy" is "the way they generally are in Russia." This is not the result of some conspiracy to mock Russians, but the result of any objective evaluation of the quality of Russian efforts. The Russians are backwards, and have been for a long time.

But, that backwardness isn't the major Russian problem. Backwardness is fixable. It's the Russian attitude to it. If you give the Russians credit for effort, they get offended (because you're being condescending). If you instead hold them to Western quality standards, they get offended (because you're being critical). So you have to pretend things are perfect - which, given the work is perpetually sloppy and late of course they know isn't true. So then they are offended that you're blatantly lying.

It's tiresome, and it's predictable, and it's really not worth caring about. The Russians are offended? Of course they are. They're still Russian.

EMD said...

I blame vodka.