When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Russia

One Year Away, Russia Risks Not Being Ready For 2014 Winter Olympics In Sochi

Shortages of manpower leave many of the construction projects for the Winter Games far behind schedule.

Sochi 2014 Olympic Mascots in the front of the Olympic Park
Sochi 2014 Olympic Mascots in the front of the Olympic Park
Peter Netreba, Oleg Sapozhkov, Dmitrii Butrin

MOSCOW – A year before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, new problems have emerged, which could jeopardize the event. This time it’s not lack of money, which has plagued construction from the beginning, but a surprising lack of manpower.

At a recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Kozak said that with 12 months until the Games, the construction and organizational aspects could not afford to run into major new roadblocks. He underlined that outstanding questions linked to visitors’ visas and accommodation, transportation and communications need to be solved quickly.

However, based on the IOC's meeting, they seem to be dealing above all with the same construction problems that they were already talking about in 2007, when Russia was awarded the Winter Olympics.

Olympic Committee documents warn that it might be impossible to complete construction on all Olympic infrastructures in time. The main problem is that an additional 22,600 workers are needed in Sochi. The original plan had called for 94,500 workers, but only 71,900 are actually working on site.

In preparation for the Sochi Games, there are 378 construction projects being undertaken by the federal government and 46 by the regional government – as well as many private projects. Only 13 of those projects are directly related to sports – the rest have to do with infrastructure and the hospitality industry. Of the 13 projects directly related to sports, only six have been finished and are usable, while work continues on the rest – and there are concerns about having enough manpower to do so. While both public and private projects are experiencing a worker shortage, the problem is much more acute for private developers. Many of those developers are building hotels.

More than 24,000 new hotel rooms

In addition to the actual sports venues, hotels are an important part of the Olympics. The minimum number of hotel rooms needed for the event is 41,500. As part of the preparation for the Games, 43 hotels with a combined 24,000 rooms were supposed to be built. Of those, six have already been cancelled due to “systematic problems with investors.”

According to Olympic Committee documents, an additional 24 hotel projects have “fallen through or are at risk of falling through.” The reason is listed as the same for all 24 projects in question – lack of manpower.

The Ministry of Regional Development says that this lack of workers and vehicles is intentional. “The planned 94,500 workers was meant as the peak number, so of course there will be reallocation of the workers and technology,” a Ministry spokesman said.

But in the Construction and Development department, officials say that a proposed fine on private developers who fail to get their projects done in time could help minimize the risk of more projects falling apart. At the moment, the hotel room deficit is only 2,400, and there even appears to be an excess of 3-star hotels.

As of Jan. 1, 74.5% of the total budget for the Sochi Olympic Games had already been spent. The money problems that plagued many of the construction projects were resolved a year ago, when the government helped private investors secure credit for their projects. In order to prevent this quasi-public funding from being wasted, those who received government-backed credit had to agree to stiff fines for missing construction targets. As of Jan. 10, 2013, 68 developers had signed these agreements.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest