There is a lot of news coming out of Sochi, Russia right now. But most of it has nothing to do with the results of the Olympics.
Instead, journalists have been tweeting about the poor hotels and living conditions in Sochi, but the messages are missing the point. Rather than naming Sochi the “Worst Olympics Travel Destination Ever” like Time Magazine did, we should instead pay attention to what these mishaps are really telling us. One, that citizens of “Western” countries have unrealistic demands for luxury. And two, that Russia is still a struggling nation.
The Olympic Games are known for racking up absurdly large budgets—it has been widely reported that Sochi’s cost has neared $50 billion, the most expensive Games ever.
But despite that sum, journalists and athletes were appalled upon arriving in Russia. One journalist created a Twitter handle called @SochiProblems where people could post all of their “outlandish” experiences with Sochi hotels and Olympic arenas.
Sochi is city is still struggling to keep itself intact.
Recovering from what many call the genocide of a people (the Circassians), and rebuilding from a war with Georgia, Sochi is dealing with long-term effects of poverty, political unrest and social turmoil. Even more recently, citizens were displaced to make room for the Olympic Village.
Sochi definitely has its share of problems, but they have little to do with water temperature and toilet paper. Visitors were met with a city that couldn’t quite match the high standard of living of a lot of the Western world, and the solution was to hashtag it up to “Sochi Problems” rather than trying to understand the complex history at play within Russia.
If journalists really wanted to talk about Sochi’s problems, they’d be better served tweeting about a people marginalized by a largely autocratic “president” within a struggling nation.