Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, said yesterday that the power grid to facilitate the Sochi Winter Olympics is still being built with only a month to go till the games are due to start. It is estimated that the grid will only come online on January 25, which is only 13 days before the opening ceremony.
According to Ria Novosti, $51 billion has been spent so far on preparing for the Sochi games, but this is justified by Russia by saying they want to put Sochi on the map as a world tourist resort.
Meanwhile, security is being tightened ahead of the games, and locals, who often see tourists as a nuisance, are being given classes in politeness, says Sochi mayoral advisor Olga Nedelko. The increased security measures came into force on Tuesday last, with 400 Cossacks drafted in to police Sochi and the games all the way through till March, and the paralympics. Already non-locals cars are banned from the city, unless they have a security pass. The Cossacks are also to provide security to athletes, foreign delegations and tourists.
With all of the above security, it remains to be seen if Putin’s assurances to the IOC last October, that all are welcome in Sochi regardless of “nationality, race or sexual orientation”.
Billie Jean King, who is part of the US Olympic delegation to Sochi, has warned athletes not to protest LGBT issues at the upcoming games, quoting rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. This is the rule which bans political demonstrations. The US have stated that they will not be sending any senior political figures as representatives to the games for the first times since 2000.
Two other openly gay former Olympic athletes will also form part of the US delegation, Brian Boitano and Caitlin Cahow. “The Russian people have always been so wonderful to me personally” said Billy Jean, who is looking forward to the Russian trip, saying it may help the LGBT community over there.