The Synchronized Bowel Movement Venue is ready
February 4, 2014 2:42 PM   Subscribe

The media have begun to arrive in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which kick off this Friday. Aside from the typical local colour, journalists have flagged some, shall we say, idiosyncratic aspects of the facilities and accommodations. The quirk that has generated the most discussion? Well that would have to be the double-toilet stall, and the official PR response. Or it might be the hiring of a local company to kill stray dogs. Last minute dashes to the construction finish line are certainly nothing new for Olympic hosts. Perhaps this is just the Russian take on a time-honoured tradition. Previous coverage of the run-up to the Sochi Olympics here and here.
posted by dry white toast (158 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something something "wide stance" something.
posted by yoink at 2:44 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


One wonders how much longer the current model of the Olympics can exist, especially since among other things they can bankrupt countries (Cracked article, see #3).
posted by Melismata at 2:50 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


U.S. Biathlete Sara Studebaker noted on her blog that the double-toilet room she saw last year in the Endurance Village (the "village" where the cross country skiers and biathletes are staying and competing) now has stall walls separating the two toilets.
posted by Area Man at 2:51 PM on February 4


Of all the places I wouldn't want to be a gay canine contractor, Sochi tops the list.

Seriously though, this Olympics is a horrible embarrassment to the already horrible embarrassment that is the International Olympic Committee.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:54 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Just take over an island near Greece and turn it into Olympus. Make it the hub for international sports in the EU and Middle East, with dedicated facilities that host the Olympics every two years. Hosting is a fool's errand to begin with, but lately it's gone from dumb to ruinous, at no benefit to the games whatsoever.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:56 PM on February 4 [16 favorites]


Also from Deadspin: Staying In Sochi Is A Hilarious Adventure
posted by Going To Maine at 2:58 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The bathroom rules, linked in the Bloomberg article, are awesome.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:59 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Just take over an island near Greece and turn it into Olympus. Make it the hub for international sports in the EU and Middle East, with dedicated facilities that host the Olympics every two years. Hosting is a fool's errand to begin with, but lately it's gone from dumb to ruinous, at no benefit to the games whatsoever.

Every two years would mean you think an island near Greece can host the Winter Olympics. I don't think that makes much sense.
posted by Area Man at 3:00 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The bathroom rules, linked in the Bloomberg article, are awesome.

How stupid would you feel being the athlete who brought his rod and tackle hoping to fish in the toilet between qualifying runs?
posted by dry white toast at 3:01 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


How else are you going to get that delicious caviar that people keep talking about.

My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, "do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous."

:)
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:03 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Every two years would mean you think an island near Greece can host the Winter Olympics. I don't think that makes much sense.

An indoor ski mountain makes complete sense compared to the arrangement we have now.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:03 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


at no benefit to the games whatsoever

Depends on what you mean by "The Games". The IOC benefits plenty.
posted by dry white toast at 3:06 PM on February 4


How stupid would you feel being the athlete who brought his rod and tackle hoping to fish in the toilet between qualifying runs?

Reads this. Puzzled frown crosses face. Looks at toilet rules. Ohhhh. Literal "rod and tackle."
posted by yoink at 3:06 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Every two years would mean you think an island near Greece can host the Winter Olympics. I don't think that makes much sense.

An indoor ski mountain makes complete sense compared to the arrangement we have now.


I vote for using Antarctica.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:06 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Are double toilets so unheard of? There's some in the Manchester Arndale, and a few clubs I've been in. They're a really great idea.
posted by Thing at 3:11 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


*blink* Just went to the nbcolympics.com website for the first time in two years. What a boring site. WTH. That professional white background is blinding.
posted by Melismata at 3:12 PM on February 4


They're a really great idea

Care to elaborate?
posted by yoink at 3:14 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I don't see what people are complaining about- I'm very excited by the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Olympic Potemkin Village is supposed to be state-of-the-art!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:21 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


"Hey! How's it going? How 'bout that chili?"
posted by Going To Maine at 3:21 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


"Hey! How's it going?"

Yes. Better, under the circumstances, than "How's it hanging?"
posted by yoink at 3:23 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Are double toilets so unheard of? There's some in the Manchester Arndale, and a few clubs I've been in. They're a really great idea.

I can confirm that there used to be a double toilet in the gents near Nando's in the shopping centre under Canary Wharf.
posted by memebake at 3:27 PM on February 4


"I imagine the Olympic Spirit as being some grisly blood-spattered pagan deity demanding the sacrifices of infants and elderly from its throne upon Mount Olympus, where it devoured the original Olympians and now resides in a palace made from their skulls and bones, casting its ravenous gaze over ever-new shores as it grows more and more bloated and obscene."

(credit to somethingawful)
posted by dilaudid at 3:29 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Every two years would mean you think an island near Greece can host the Winter Olympics. I don't think that makes much sense.

An indoor ski mountain makes complete sense compared to the arrangement we have now.


With the stupid level of costs involved now, I've been thinking that the only thing that makes sense anymore is one of two options:

1. Two sites are designated as the official Olympic Towns forever - one for summer, and one for winter. The IOC and the Corporate sponsors help to build and maintain the infrastructure, and those two locations are where the Olympics always are. The periods of time they are not in use, they are available for training for all nations.

-of course, this would just prompt a great deal of fighting about where, exactly, these towns are located, in whose country, ensuring access, dealing with political unrest, and so forth.

So I came up with option 2:

2. The Olympics become a global event. Certain events are staged in the same places in the same venues always. For example, Canada is given the resources to build 3 world class ice rinks. These are used to host the Olympic hockey and figure skating competitions. When not in use for the Olympics, the host nation would agree that the facilities are to be made available for other nations to use for training, and they might also be used for other international sporting competitions from time to time as well. Different countries get different venues - largely based on the sports most popular in their country, in order to ensure good turnouts of fans. The Olympics become an event where some things are happening close to home, others are happening around the world, and everyone gets involved.

-problems with this - what to do with opening and closing ceremonies? And how do you encourage development of the sport in other countries than the host, who have the best facilities - needs to be some way to ensure training facilities are available locally too.

Neither of these will happen. I know that. There are too many obstacles (logistically and politically) to overcome.

But I feel like the current setup is not sustainable and it either needs to change or we will wind up with:

3. The Corporate Games. Instead of countries, athletes are sponsored and supported by corporations. Fierce competition occurs to lure top performers from one mega corporation to another in the down periods. Governments are pressured into providing tax breaks and building facilities to allow training and to host the Games at taxpayer's expense. Sports that don't pull in big ratings are dropped altogether. Athletes become walking logos.

-I think the only thing that needs to happen for #3 to happen now is (a) the name change; and (b) some clear rules around contracts for the athletes and their corporate sponsor (e..g., how many years can they sign for? What about free agency? Trades, etc?). This scenario feels like it is very close to reality.
posted by nubs at 3:31 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


So just how do you say "schadenfreude" in Russian, anyway?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:35 PM on February 4


Dangerous face water!
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:40 PM on February 4


Every two years would mean you think an island near Greece can host the Winter Olympics. I don't think that makes much sense.

Temperature in Sochi, as of 3am, is 39 Fahrenheit. Predicted highs are 50 or above for most of the week.
Colder than Greece, I'm sure....but Sochi doesn't make much sense either.
posted by uosuaq at 3:42 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Thing: "Are double toilets so unheard of? There's some in the Manchester Arndale, and a few clubs I've been in. They're a really great idea."

Um, yeah, no, I'm with Albert Einstein on this one: "Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living. Fart with abandon. Poop freely."



OK, fine, I admit I added the last two. My point stands.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:46 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like.

Cool refreshing springtime in a glass? Liquid sunshine?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:49 PM on February 4


41 BILLION DOLLARS over budget. Fuck the Olympics.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:49 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


I have to ask: how did they not foresee the PR issues? Is this just a difference of journalism cultures-- would/are Russian journalists pointing out the idiosyncrasies as well?
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:51 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


41 BILLION DOLLARS over budget. Fuck the Olympics.

Olympics + Russia = corruption clusterfuck

(I wonder how much of that went towards Putin's palace up the street.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:52 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


These places sound pretty shambolic even by Russian standards, but this is a ridiculous reaction to something that's commonplace in many parts of the world.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:53 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Fuck the Olympics.

I've thought this since the London Olympics.
posted by winna at 3:53 PM on February 4


but this is a ridiculous reaction to something that's commonplace in many parts of the world

Depends on where you've traveled, I suppose. I've been to 20 countries on 3 continents and never encountered that. I mean, I'm not shocked by it I guess, but I am curious where it is common.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:55 PM on February 4


Amidst all the snark and negatives of the Olympics, sorry but I am still a sucker for some of the athletes.

Jeremy Abbot's short program (men's figure skating) is just so cool. Jazz on ice.

And Gracie Gold might not win a medal either, but good lord was she ever born to be skating at the Olympics. She jumps like a gymnast and looks like a Barbie. Love the finishing pose.
posted by surplus at 3:55 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


That toilet is for conjoined twins you heartless bastards.
posted by srboisvert at 3:57 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


Those pictures from the canada.com article remind me very strongly of visiting Lillehammer before those games. Of course, when I was in Lillehammer it was 1) August, and 2) a year and a half ahead of the games.
posted by ckape at 3:58 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Depends on where you've traveled, I suppose. I've been to 20 countries on 3 continents and never encountered that. I mean, I'm not shocked by it I guess, but I am curious where it is common.

In my limited experience, it's nearly universal in Greece and Turkey.
posted by dd42 at 3:59 PM on February 4


I nominate Switzerland for both the Summer and Winter Olympics in perpetuity. The Swiss will fund all construction, maintenance, security and labor costs. In return the entire world visits every two years and willingly empties their wallets, in perpetuity. The IOC is confined to a dingy office suite in the outskirts of Zurich with nothing but a fax machine, yet again in perpetuity...
posted by jim in austin at 4:01 PM on February 4 [11 favorites]


I vote for using Antarctica.

Make it at the pole! That way it will be in every timezone and nobody can complain!
posted by srboisvert at 4:01 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Temperature in Sochi, as of 3am, is 39 Fahrenheit. Predicted highs are 50 or above for most of the week.
Colder than Greece, I'm sure....but Sochi doesn't make much sense either.


This NYRB article is paywalled, but good if you have access: Putin's Downhill Race That said, the article is about Winter Olympics in the Subtropics, a report by Democratic opposition members Boris Nemstov and Leonid Martynyuk. The report begins:
"Russia is a winterly country. On the map, it is hard to find a spot where snow would never fall, and where winter sports would not be popular. Yet Putin has found such a spot and decided to hold the Winter Olympics there: In the city of Sochi... [T]he main competitions, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, [will] be held in the Imereti Valley, which is a subtropical swampland located on the Black Sea shore in the basin of the River Mzymta — the warmest possible place not only in Russia, but in Sochi as well."
posted by Going To Maine at 4:02 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


Care to elaborate?

Sure. A double toilet lets you pee with a child or a friend. I think there are enough people who do or would like to do that to make building at least one double toilet worthwhile.
posted by Thing at 4:06 PM on February 4


Depends on where you've traveled, I suppose. I've been to 20 countries on 3 continents and never encountered that. I mean, I'm not shocked by it I guess, but I am curious where it is common.

Primarily in countries that do not substantially compete in the Winter Olympics. See: http://www.wheredoiputthepaper.com/
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:07 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Depends on where you've traveled, I suppose. I've been to 20 countries on 3 continents and never encountered that. I mean, I'm not shocked by it I guess, but I am curious where it is common.

Anywhere in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, most of Africa, much of Asia, parts of South America. Previously on Mefi.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:08 PM on February 4


Can't have too much of a good thing.
posted by Wemmick at 4:10 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Sure. A double toilet lets you pee with a child or a friend. I think there are enough people who do or would like to do that to make building at least one double toilet worthwhile.

I guess I was imagining that this was a men's loo--where the urinals give you all the scope you need for convivial peeing. But I suppose if women want the joy of peeing in company (or finding out whether or not they've got a shy bladder) that's an argument for the double-header.
posted by yoink at 4:14 PM on February 4


They have a functioning space program, but their toilets can't handle toilet paper.

Huh.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:23 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


(Oh, wait, is it a Communism thing? Like, I guess all that shitty toilet paper needs to be collected by workers, whereas flushing would rob those workers of their worth, so it is best that toilet paper cannot be flushed? Also, if somebody does flush, and the pipes get fucked up, comrade plumber may serve his country!)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:28 PM on February 4


"I nominate Switzerland for both the Summer and Winter Olympics in perpetuity."

I like this idea, especially the part about reducing the IOC to a bureaucratic afterthought. And the Swiss would certainly know how to run a proper Olympics. But most of the world would have serious problems with putting everything in Europe.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:30 PM on February 4


And the double toilet incident... If they had just said that this was a Russian custom (even if it's not), or that the partitions hadn't arrived yet, or anything that sounded halfway honest, they would have been a minor sensation and then forgotten. But they had to make up a story about the toilets being converted into a storage area (complete with silly photo) and get some mouthpiece to try and equate laughing at double toilets with laughing in the face of Mother Russia... Well, it made the whole thing into a farce.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:35 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Switzerland's habit of lacing all of their public works with explosives may be a bit of a double-edged sword in that case.
posted by ckape at 4:37 PM on February 4


They have a functioning space program, but their toilets can't handle toilet paper.

That's a regular Sophie's Choice right there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:38 PM on February 4 [11 favorites]


Lots of Americans with cruddy septic systems -- even newerish ones -- would recognize the bin and the sign.

(But for God's sake, shouldn't there be a lid on that bin?)

I'm more disturbed by the news about the stray dogs.
posted by notyou at 4:43 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Maybe the double toilet is for Luge Doubles teams? They're already on pretty intimate terms.
posted by Kabanos at 4:45 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The bathroom rules, linked in the Bloomberg article, are awesome.

I could swear I saw that exact poster somewhere online several years ago.
posted by ymgve at 4:55 PM on February 4


I feel so bad for the athletes, who've dreamed so long and trained so hard to get to go the Olympics, but when the time finally comes for them their Olympics turns out to be this clusterfuck, and not even a clusterfuck in a nice place but in a violent, warring, homophobic and totalitarian state.
posted by Flashman at 5:02 PM on February 4 [17 favorites]


Thanks, Sochi, those of us in Utah are feeling lots better about ourselves.
posted by mmoncur at 5:04 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


"We'll get right on those man holes." —Sochi utility worker

"Oh, no you won't." —Vladimir Putin
posted by Renoroc at 5:20 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


The Most Expensive, the Most Corrupt, and the Most Dangerous Olympics in History.
It’s important to know that the International Olympic Committee exists for one reason only: to make money for its members and cronies. The pious proclamations about the brotherhood of man and the “Olympic spirit” is a beard to mask the fact that all the marketing, broadcast rights, naming rights (“The Official Underarm Deodorant of the Olympic Games!”), and corporate partnerships are various ways to spread the wealth to favored clients and hangers-on.
Meanwhile in Rio
Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor at Rio's Universidade Federal Fluminense who is studying the impact of events such as the Olympics and World Cup, said he expects the 2016 Games to run perhaps 50% over budget.
"The budget is always a little voodoo economics," said Mr. Gaffney.
posted by adamvasco at 5:50 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


So you're saying we should throw the toilet paper in the bin, in which case it makes more sense to wipe while standing up? MAKE UP YOUR MIND, METAFILTER!
posted by benito.strauss at 6:04 PM on February 4


I feel bad for any city who hosts the Olympics and especially a city as small as Sochi.
posted by octothorpe at 6:05 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


This is what happens when you don't hire Mitt Romney to swoop in and save the day.
posted by ckape at 6:08 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I can't figure out what the bottom-right prohibited activity is in the bathroom rules placard. No sitting splayed on the floor about to throw a hand grenade in the toilet? No sitting while having a tail and about to shave?
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:08 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I was wondering about that one, too. It couldn't be No Gloryhole Handjobs, could it?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:25 PM on February 4


It's a small bomb, such as you might have thrown in toilets as a teen.
posted by Thing at 6:29 PM on February 4


Looking at the Bathroom Rules, the "rod and tackle" one makes perfect sense to me- it's saying "don't bounce your stream off the ceiling and into the bowl, someone has to clean that."


It's the one on the lower right that confuses the fuck out of me.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:31 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


No drug injecting I think.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:40 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Thing: "A double toilet lets you pee with a child or a friend. I think there are enough people who do or would like to do that to make building at least one double toilet worthwhile."

Ya, this would be pretty handy in family oriented facilities. Or in an olympic venue where someone is watching people pee for drug testing reasons.
posted by Mitheral at 6:41 PM on February 4


Seems pretty tacky for western journalists to make fun of the toilet paper bins. Have they never been to, I don't know, a baseball game in Mexico or the DR?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:44 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I wonder if the IOC's corruption is greater or lesser than FIFA's? I assume you'd have to adjust for the size of the respective bureaucracies and money spent hosting the World Cup vs the Olympics.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 7:14 PM on February 4


Other thoughts on bathroom rules:

- Where would they rather someone vomit, if not the toilet?

- What do they have against yoga?
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:18 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the IOC's corruption is greater or lesser than FIFA's? I assume you'd have to adjust for the size of the respective bureaucracies and money spent hosting the World Cup vs the Olympics.

We'll know if the next summer olympics location is Qatar.
posted by winna at 7:29 PM on February 4


The only place I've run into bins for the used toilet paper was in Hong Kong, at the Mirador Mansions (think "Chunking Mansion's classier next door hovel"). The sewage system in Kowloon, or in that building, I guess, at the time (still?) in 1998 couldn't handle toilet paper.

If it's something you've grown up with, I imagine it's no big deal. If you've flushed TP all your life, it's a pretty difficult adjustment. I guess $51 billion dollars only buys so much.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:31 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The $51 billion thing is staggering. According to the Deadspin article, there's a single road that cost more than the Vancouver Olympics.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:33 PM on February 4


Probably the road with extensive tunneling. If you are going to spend money in relation to the Olympics a transportation corridor upgrade seems like good use of the money.
posted by Mitheral at 7:52 PM on February 4


This Olympics is a farce. I hope that it doesn't distract from the athletes who have worked hard towards this event, but it doesn't do anyone any favours unless you're on the receiving end of a contract from Putin and his cronies.
posted by arcticseal at 8:39 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because someone who is about to puke might see the sign and decide not to?
posted by ctmf at 9:21 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


- Where would they rather someone vomit, if not the toilet?

Maybe that's the reason for all the open manholes.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Someone placed a 200 lb. wooden cock on the car of a well-known satirist of the Kremlin.
posted by dry white toast at 10:10 PM on February 4


Sochi Olympics: Put It In The Bin ProvidedOlbermann
posted by ob1quixote at 11:50 PM on February 4


Just to quote more of that report from my last comment:
posted by Going To Maine at 6:49 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


spiegel international on Putin's Olympics
posted by bukvich at 6:51 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Ya, this would be pretty handy in family oriented facilities. Or in an olympic venue where someone is watching people pee for drug testing reasons.

You know, you can watch someone pee--be it a child or an athlete--without peeing at the same time yourself.

Although I suppose it would make up for some of the indignity of forcing athletes to pee into cups if the testers had to sympathy-pee alongside them.
posted by yoink at 9:33 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Mother Jones: Why Sochi has no Mosques
posted by frimble at 9:41 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Unfinished Sochi Cultural Center Just Covered Up With Tarp
posted by Going To Maine at 10:00 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor at Rio's Universidade Federal Fluminense who is studying the impact of events such as the Olympics and World Cup, said he expects the 2016 Games to run perhaps 50% over budget.
"The budget is always a little voodoo economics," said Mr. Gaffney.


Just to go back to that report, it's apparently standard for Olympics to cost double the projected amount. Sochi, in contrast, is at four times the projected amount.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:02 AM on February 5


While half of the things reported are major failures (A hotel without a lobby? Missing manhole covers?), the other half seems like small issues that would most likely be ignored in any other Olympic games. I wonder how much the meme of "Sochi is an incomplete clusterfuck" influences how much attention is paid to the latter half.
posted by ymgve at 10:45 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


yoink: "You know, you can watch someone pee--be it a child or an athlete--without peeing at the same time yourself."

Well maybe you can
/hamburger

However I was more tongue-in-cheek thinking about throughput; one watcher could watch two watchees at a time. And with little kids it seems like once one has to go the whole group has to go.
posted by Mitheral at 10:57 AM on February 5


While half of the things reported are major failures (A hotel without a lobby? Missing manhole covers?), the other half seems like small issues that would most likely be ignored in any other Olympic games.

What other half?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on February 5


What other half?

Stuff like the toilet that lacked a partition that started it all, chairs in a toilet, funny and badly translated signs, and the realization for some that yes - in some other parts of the world, it is normal to throw your toilet paper into the trash instead of down the drain.
posted by ymgve at 11:21 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


ymgve: "Stuff like the toilet that lacked a partition that started it all"

If that toilet was merely missing a partition then it was clearly designed for very small people. Not a whole lot of room there.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:28 AM on February 5


Until I see more examples of two toilets in one bathroom without a partition, that counts as a major error: it's some designer being too lazy to get something very basic right. And there are lots of these double toilets. It's not just one rogue screw-up, it's a systematic thing, and one that the Russian PR office tried to lie about and cover up.

These are all small things, but they are the sort of small things that $60 billion should be ensuring get done correctly. Like the mistranslated signs - okay, ha ha, you're in a low-budget hotel. But guess what? You're in a low-budget hotel that is part of an Olympic village that cost double what other Olympic villages cost. And you can't hire a translator who speaks good English?
posted by Going To Maine at 11:37 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I can keep posting relevant Deadspin links all thread long: A User's Guide To The Bizarre Toilets of Sochi
posted by Going To Maine at 11:48 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


From looking at Deadspin, aren't most of the confirmed Sochi double toilets in the endurance village area with the biathletes and cross country skiers? If so, I would point again to Sara Studebaker's blog which indicates the double toilet room she saw at that venue last year now has a partition seperating it into two stalls. Based on that, my guess is that these bathrooms were supposed to have partitions and that they didn't all get installed in time in the rush to complete the facilities.

I would also point out that the U.S. cross country skiers now staying at that same village have been raving about the facilities on their blogs.

Isn't there reporting before every Olympics claiming that the venue and host committee aren't prepared? Despite that, things usually work out okay during the actual games. I'm guessing that will be the case in Sochi. The real problems are the corruption and the cost of building all those facilities for a one-time event.
posted by Area Man at 12:02 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Maybe there is some hidden symbolism here!

Those who would seek to cross a country must not be daunted by the prospect of crossing streams.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:08 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Has the dangerous slopestyle run come up yet?
posted by sweetmarie at 12:11 PM on February 5


Fun fact: NBC ran a segment on White withdrawing from the slopestyle competition without using the word "safety" or "injury" once.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:12 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


the confirmed Sochi double toilets

Band name?
posted by yoink at 12:15 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


The locations mentioned in the Deadspin article and the associated Yahoo News Article are the Biathlon area and the Main Media Center. It's also worth noting that the Deadspin article includes a photograph from a different, hastily-constructed sporting venue in Russia that lacked partitions. Also, one of the photographs of the toilets in the Deadspin article was taken on February 3, the same day as the blog post.

It seems quite possible that the toilets were meant to have partitions installed but something got screwed up in the run-up & things weren't finished; that gibes with the many other things that have been left unfinished. Given the photograph from the other sporting arena, it seems possible that this kind of coordination issue is a routine problem. Either way, it speaks pretty badly about the contractors and the number of kinks left in the system.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:33 PM on February 5


NBC reporter's computer and cellphone hacked almost immediately upon arrival in Sochi

It was two brand new computers with a phony identity, specifically meant to test computer security, but still.
posted by dnash at 1:05 PM on February 5


Summer games in Greece, winter games in Vancouver. Oh, and the IOC is forced to move to a three story building in Siberia with FIFA, the skating and gymnastic federations, and the NCAA. I'm sure they'll all get along famously.
posted by Ber at 1:08 PM on February 5


Vancouver? No, somewhere where they actually have winter.
posted by Area Man at 1:14 PM on February 5


The jankiest thing of all is the fact that we're going to be watching another tape-delayed Olympics back here in the states. I'm looking forward to Brazil so at least we can watch some live stuff.
posted by norm at 1:21 PM on February 5


The reception of our hotel in #Sochi has no floor. But it does have this welcoming picture.
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


They should have gone with the picture of him barecheasted on a horse.
posted by Area Man at 1:29 PM on February 5


Corruption and Construction at the Sochi Olympics
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on February 5


Just How Bad Is the Scene in Sochi?, Katie Baker, Grantland, 05 February 2014
I had yet to eat my breakfast this morning when someone regaled me with a story about a guy staying up in Sochi’s mountaintop media hotel cluster who turned on his faucet and watched as sewage spilled out. Last night, a colleague returned to her room after a long day of work to find the door swung open, a set of keys still dangling from the lock. Nothing was stolen, but a TV had finally been installed. It could have been worse: The door to one guy’s room was supposedly kicked down by workers trying to put in a cable box.

The tales from the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics go on and on: hotel reservations vanishing, shower rods and curtains nowhere to be found, workers heaving small decorative palm trees off the back of a moving truck and onto the side of the road like paperboys on bicycles.



As far as I can tell, all these stories are real, though it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish the actual from the apocryphal. The Sochi Games have officially entered the Tyson Zone, and they haven’t even begun.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:35 PM on February 5


These game's'll really enter the crazy stratosphere when Putin plays his trump card and Edward Snowden strolls out to light the Olympic Flame at the opening ceremony.
posted by COBRA! at 2:39 PM on February 5 [17 favorites]


oh god I missed the edit window
posted by COBRA! at 2:54 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


bukvich's Spiegel article is really interesting. It names some of the people at the top who are benefiting (and in some cases losing) from Olympic contracts. Old Yeltsin era oligarchs lose, but get to prove their loyalty to the new regime by spending money in Sochi. Medvedev affiliated oligarchs appeared to gain in 2006, but now lose, just as their patron is being sidelined from power. And Putin allied oligarchs win, win, win.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:58 PM on February 5


Safety concerns over Sochi slopestyle course intensify, Shaun White withdraws from slopestyle in Sochi
posted by Sys Rq at 4:18 PM on February 5


(or, what y'all said four hours ago)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:25 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


They should have gone with the picture of him barecheasted on a horse.

Colbert was talking about Putin's manliness with a couple of members of Pussy Riot last night:

Pussy Riot Members Make First American Television Appearance on The Colbert Report
posted by homunculus at 6:23 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


The Loneliness of Vladimir Putin: He crushed his opposition and has nothing to show for it but a country that's falling apart
posted by homunculus at 6:24 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Toilet oddities aside, the whole story of corruption is really depressing. It makes me feel bad for the Russian people who have to put up with this regime all of the time instead of for a weeks of a dog and pony show. I mean, if you can't get that right when you're in the international spotlight, then what CAN you get right?
posted by codacorolla at 6:35 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


See also.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:34 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


This is going great...
posted by SisterHavana at 9:18 PM on February 5


The Killing of Stray Dogs in Sochi [Caution: Heartbreaking]Olbermann, 05 February 2014
There will be a lot of issues that come up with the Sochi Olympics, but don't overlook the potential hunting and killing of hundreds of stray dogs by the Russian government in preparation for the games. Keith explains.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:38 PM on February 5


This is the puffiest of puff (a blog post about a tweet), but seems to continue the trend of people not having planned things at all well: The Olympic Village Has An "Extreme Shortage" Of Pillows
posted by Going To Maine at 5:49 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


So just how do you say "schadenfreude" in Russian, anyway?

Sochifreude
posted by nubs at 8:17 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations, reflected the view held among many Russian officials that some Western visitors are deliberately trying to sabotage Sochi's big debut out of bias against Russia. "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 said. An aide then pulled a reporter away before Mr. Kozak could be questioned further on surveillance in hotel rooms.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Oops!
posted by Mitheral at 8:53 AM on February 6


There will be a lot of issues that come up with the Sochi Olympics, but don't overlook the potential hunting and killing of hundreds of stray dogs by the Russian government in preparation for the games. Keith explains.

Ehhhh, yes and no. Russia has a real dog problem, and it's a lot less "stray" and a lot more "feral packs". The dog packs roaming Moscow are notably developing wolf-like traits, as a result of generations of feral breeding, and have gotten smart enough to use the subway system. I can't imagine Sochi is all that much better.
posted by kafziel at 10:07 AM on February 6


Is there a German phrase for when someone denies wrongdoing through the admission of a different kind of wrongdoing? That Kozak quote is almost as bad as Rob Ford saying he can't remember if he smoked crack on account of getting blackout drunk so often.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:43 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I grew up with Newfoundlands and Mastiffs, but the largest dog I ever saw was a stray I like to think of as The Beast of Kiev. I used to see tons of strays during my relatively brief time visiting Russia and the Ukraine. Obviously, what's going on in Sochi isn't the right solution, but I'm not surprised to hear they have a problem with dog packs.
posted by Area Man at 10:50 AM on February 6


I've thought this since the London Olympics.

London? I still think Beijing tops the "Fuck You Olympics" vibe the most. What with the destruction of really old hutong neighborhoods, the pre-Olympic Tibetan Unrest, the Torch Relay-Gauntlet, and the secret online flame war.

And it was the most expensive Olympics of all the time, but it looks like Sochi is going to break that Olympic record.
posted by FJT at 11:58 AM on February 6


" The dog packs roaming Moscow are notably developing wolf-like traits, as a result of generations of feral breeding, and have gotten smart enough to use the subway system. "

Dogs haven't "got" that smart; they are that smart (at least most any dog that won't fit into a purse).
posted by Mitheral at 12:22 PM on February 6


I still think Beijing tops the "Fuck You Olympics" vibe the most. What with the destruction of really old hutong neighborhoods, the pre-Olympic Tibetan Unrest, the Torch Relay-Gauntlet

I remember that: SF Oympic Torch Bearer Reveals Tibetan Flag - Gets Assualted.
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


This is the puffiest of puff (a blog post about a tweet), but seems to continue the trend of people not having planned things at all well: The Olympic Village Has An "Extreme Shortage" Of Pillows

I would be rioting in the streets.

Give me pillows or give me death!
posted by winna at 2:32 PM on February 6


Reminds me of the love toilet.

(Warning: SNL video with sound. Might be NSFW if your workplace is super-uptight)
posted by double block and bleed at 3:31 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


"The Loneliness of Vladimir Putin: He crushed his opposition and has nothing to show for it but a country that's falling apart"

Thanks for that link, homunculus, that was a very good (and satisfyingly long) piece. I'm amazed to have read something worthwhile in The New Republic. Hard to believe, but true.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:48 PM on February 6


Yeah, Julia Ioffe is a good journalist, so TNR deserves credit for recognizing that. She also wrote the 200 lb. wooden cock article linked upthread. She won my heart when she smacked down Lawrence O'Donnell awhile back.
posted by homunculus at 4:35 PM on February 6


I'm watching NBC's primetime coverage tonight. Apparently Sochi gave the announcer pink eye?
posted by sparklemotion at 5:09 PM on February 6


It was kinda worth it to watch tonight just to hear Bob Costas say "Pussy Riot" on national television.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:26 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Take Home The Gold Medal In Olympic Knowledge
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:46 AM on February 7


Is there a German phrase for when someone denies wrongdoing through the admission of a different kind of wrongdoing?

Sadly, that would seem to be a straightforward verschlimbesserung.
posted by frimble at 8:54 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


sparklemotion: "I'm watching NBC's primetime coverage tonight. Apparently Sochi gave the announcer pink eye?"

I caught him saying "infection" and then looked up and was really confused, like there was a zombie outbreak on Day One. No DVR so I couldn't rewind, but yeah, it looks like pink eye maybe:

“Bear with me for a moment as I spare my friends in the press office countless inquiries. I have no choice to go all Peabody and Sherman on you for the next couple of nights since I woke up this morning with my left eye swollen shut and just about as red as the old Soviet flag. According to the NBC doctors here, it’s some kind of minor infection which should resolve itself by the weekend. If only all my issues would resolve themselves that quickly, but that’s another story.”


Or a zombie outbreak.
posted by Big_B at 9:10 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Take Home The Gold Medal In Olympic Knowledge

Wow. From that link:
If it seems like a lot of athletes are recording video of their Olympic experience on an abnormally large smart phone, it's because every athlete at the game will be given a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with a 5.7-inch display. Expect some gold medal selfies.

Those Galaxy Note 3s will make it easier for the Russians to spy on everyone. A couple of journalists found that a company claiming to be installing free WiFi in Sochi also installed Deep Packet Inspection Technology, which allows authorities to monitor every email sent in and out of the area. They say visitors should expect that every phone call, text, e-mail and social media post will be monitored.
And it goes on like that for a good while before getting to the dumb stuff you'd expect in a listicle.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:37 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


"Athletes who win a gold medal on February 15th ‒ one year to the day after the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russia ‒ will get a special medal with an actual piece of the meteorite embedded in the middle."

Okay, that might be the only thing about these Games that is both clever and not profoundly evil.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:47 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Russian Police Choir performs 'Get Lucky'
posted by octothorpe at 9:23 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


One of the only two things.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:48 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


#SochiJailBreak
posted by Big_B at 11:32 AM on February 8


This is a promo for the games airing on British television: A Special Winter Anthem.
posted by rollick at 2:28 PM on February 8


From the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion: A PSA titled "Luge" -- "The games have always been a little gay. Let's fight to keep it that way."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:59 PM on February 8


How I Accidentally Became Part Of The Anti-Russia Conspiracy
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Obstructed view: how Russia distorts the Olympics. Under pressure from the Kremlin, Russia's media has painted a starkly different picture of the Winter Olympics
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on February 16


NBC reporter's computer and cellphone hacked almost immediately upon arrival in Sochi

More on that here: Sochi’s Lasting Legacy. The Olympics, where security is always a concern, have long served as a testing ground for new government surveillance systems.
posted by homunculus at 3:55 PM on February 16


The U.S. Cross Country Ski and Biathlon teams seem to be trying to prevent the information on the ski grinds they are using from being stolen. They are taking care never to e-mail that information and they never leave the media containing that data unattended. (I'm assuming the grinding machines and their computers aren't connected to anything.)

I'm not sure what to think about that. On the one hand, I doubt the FSB is reading other ski teams' e-mail and computers. On the other hand, why take chances.
posted by Area Man at 5:10 PM on February 16


a special medal with an actual piece of the meteorite embedded in the middle

Does anyone else feel like this is the beginning of a story about how, suddenly, all around the world, there's going to be an outbreak of superpowers granted by chunks of a mysterious meteorite? Hopefully, those powers won't be constrained to the abilities in each event. It would suck to end up with a cleaning and slow moving rock pushing related superpower.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:26 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Chillin' in a garbage bin
posted by homunculus at 5:46 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Heroic cat falls through ceiling of Sochi skating arena, walks away
posted by homunculus at 6:16 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Ceiling Cat is watching you 'bate skate.
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


The best cameramen at the Olympics are drones
posted by homunculus at 6:36 PM on February 17


See what happens when you kill all the dogs?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:46 PM on February 17


"See what happens when you kill all the dogs?"

Ceiling cats are what happens.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:30 PM on February 17


Now That The Games Are Over, What Will Happen To Sochi?
posted by homunculus at 8:38 PM on February 24


Jason Jones Live From Sochi-ish - No Safety Nyet: Jason Jones files his final report from Sochi-ish, and learns the most important Russian lesson of all.
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on February 25


NHL stars rescue Sochi stray dogs
[CBC Video]
Several NHL players including St. Louis Blues captain David Backes, arrive back home with a couple new four legged companions.
David Backes is my new favorite NHLer not named Anze Kopitar.
posted by notyou at 6:06 PM on February 27


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