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Has The Media Been Too Hard On Sochi?

Sochi's not the first city to begin the games somewhat unprepared for the Olympics. And reporters seem to be taking joy in Russia's struggles.
Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 11, 2014

There's no question Sochi has already had its fair share of problems. 

Twitter will tell you that much — foreign journalists have taken to the site to complain about their unfinished and even gross hotel rooms, providing plenty of fresh material for the late-night shows. (Via Twitter / @GavinLeeBBC, @StacyStClair@MarkConnolly)

"Are you surprised the games are coming to Russia?"

"I’m surprised anyone is coming to Russia! I spent my whole life praying take me away from this horrible place." (Via NBC / "Saturday Night Live"

But according to The Globe and Mail, Russian President Vladimir Putin is chalking up the criticism to what he says is a Cold War-like mentality to undermine Russia's successes. 

​Perhaps there is some merit to his argument — at least to the idea that Russia's been unfairly bashed. The New Republic’s Julia Ioffe noted how eager, almost gleeful, Western journalists seem to be when adding things to list of growing Sochi problems. 

​​Ioffe writes, "[It's] as if the Western press came hoping to encounter pillow shortages and rusty water." (Via The New Republic

Mashable's Sam Laird keeps thing in perspective, writing: "Those living conditions are exponentially better than what billions of people around the world experience every day.​"

Besides, it's not like Sochi is the first city ever a little unprepared to play host to the world's largest sporting event. 

Athletes arrived in London to an unfinished Olympic Park, and there were lingering questions over security. (Via Metro, The New York Times

In Athens, similar story. (Via Los Angeles Times

And for all that's been said about Sochi's plan to kill the city's stray dogs, it's worth pointing out Beijing organized a killing of stray cats before it hosted the Olympics. (Via CNN

Of course, many of the complaints over Russia are justified — those same journalists have called attention to the country's flagrant human rights abuses, in particular its crackdown on LGBT rights. 

​But when it comes to mocking communal bathrooms and cramped hotel rooms, maybe its time to give Sochi a break. (Via  Twitter / @SochiProb

As former State Department official Joshua Cohen points out, the Olympics are a big source of national pride in Russia. "Russian social media is filled with hurt and anger at what they are seeing in the western (primarily American) media." (Via The Times of Israel)

​Maybe this columnist at Der Spiegel put it best: "We shouldn't forget that Russia is hosting a party and we are their guests."