Every Olympics generates stories about how the venues won’t be finished, or are over budget, or how there’s not enough snow, or there’s too much snow. But the publicity cloud hanging over Sochi has to be the gloomiest ever.
There was the threat that Russia was going to arrest gay people – gay athletes were worried they’d be dragged off the slopes – until President Putin explained, no, so as long as you’re not a door-to-door gay missionary you have nothing to worry about.
And then the terror threats began with tourists and even athletes’ relatives canceling trips. Troops have been called in to create an Iron Ring around the games.
But the latest PR debacle may eclipse all that. A BBC reporter walked into the men’s room at the cross-country center and found two toilets sharing a single stall.
“Clearly even some locals find it unusual,” said the reporter.
A Sochi local told him that she thought it was some kind of joke.
“But it’s no joke,” the reporter continued. “Independent reports confirm the existence of a bathroom stall with two toilets.”
Well, the ridicule has saturated the Internet, but before we get all sanctimonious, think back on the last American gas station toilet you experienced – how you tried to hover above the seat.
And it’s not as if our private toilets are all that private: as documented 20 years ago on “Seinfeld.”
Elaine: Excuse me – this is kind of embarrassing but there’s no toilet paper over here.
In Russia not a problem, that wouldn’t be a problem.
Elaine: You can’t spare three squares!?
Woman: No! I don’t have a square to spare. I can’t spare a square!
Not a problem in Russia – you just reach right over.