Security Causes Housing Crisis for Sochi Staff
Published: 03rd February 2014 03:47 PM |
Organisers of the Sochi Winter Olympics are facing an accommodation crisis just days before the opening ceremony after contractors failed to meet deadlines to provide hostels for workers.
Heightened security around the games has hampered the movement of staff and volunteers, causing delays to work.
Dormitories that were intended to house thousands of volunteers, mostly Russian university students, are still construction sites and at least 5,000 workers have been transferred to hotels and apartments that were meant for journalists, according to an Olympic official who asked not to be named. Media workers will now have to be put up in private hotels at huge additional cost to the building contractors.
One organiser of the event said: "It is a big problem, you have no idea".
Authorities had promised the security would not be intrusive but the rising threat from Islamist terrorists based in the nearby North Caucasus republics prompted a heightened state of alert. An estimated 70,000 policemen, soldiers and other security personnel have been deployed in the greater Sochi area, with strict security and access procedures.
Some workers had their registration to the high-security Olympic Park blocked because their names had been wrongly translated into the Cyrillic alphabet.
Two activists are suing the organisers after being denied access to the games, in what they say is the use of "anti-terror" security measures to silence critics. Semyon Simonov, a Sochi-based migrants rights advocate, and Nikolai Levshits, a Moscow-based campaigner for prisoners' rights, submitted a joint suit in Sochi on Friday.