Sochi 2014:The road so far

Opening Ceremony

After much anticipation, the Winter Olympics kicked off in Sochi last week with a large production of Russian pride. The Opening Ceremony took place Friday evening, beginning with floating islands and a young Russian girl flying through the air.

It then used fireworks, ballet and more to tell the story of Russia’s long history. Some aspects of that history were arguably more idealized than they should have been, and other, more heinous occurrences were overlooked completely. The most memorable moment of the ceremony for many centered around a technical difficulty.

Five glowing snowflakes were supposed to transform into the iconic Olympic rings, but one snowflake glitched and rendered the symbol incomplete. Another one-of-a-kind spectacle occurred when a Russian police choir performed Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

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Hijacking Stopped

Turkish officials detained a Ukrainian flight passenger Friday who planned to hijack a plane to Sochi. The suspect threatened to detonate a bomb on his cell phone if the pilot didn’t land the plane in Sochi.

According to the New York Times, the flight crew then deceived him and told him the flight had arrived when it actually landed in the original destination of Istanbul. Officials said the passenger’s suitcase contained electronic equipment and no bomb. They are still investigating potential motives and organizational links. The attempted hijacking has so far been the only major security threat to plague the Winter Games.

Some expressed concern after passengers flying into Sochi through the Moscow airport were able to bring liquids through security checks without any problem. However, nothing serious came of the lax procedures.

Activists Arrested

Several gay rights advocates were arrested on the opening day of the Winter Games following protests in St. Petersburg and Moscow. According to the Associated Press, 10 activists in Moscow were detained after waving a rainbow flag and singing the Russian national anthem. In St. Petersburg, four protesters displayed a banner quoting the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination policy. Police officials in both cities refused to comment. These incidents came after months of controversy surrounding the Sochi Olympics and Russia’s harsh stance on gay rights. Many human rights groups condemned the arrests. “Instead of allowing peaceful dissent while the world is watching, Russia is doubling down on its commitment to criminalize supporters of equality,” Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign said.

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Thirsty Journalists

Two glasses of water went viral on the Internet last week after a Chicago journalist tweeted about water conditions in her Sochi hotel. According to Stacy St. Clair, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, hotel staff members instructed her not to use the water on her face because it contained something dangerous.

“Water restored, sorta,” St. Clair tweeted later on, along with a photo of the water. “On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like.”

Her original tweet saw almost 6,000 retweets, while the photo of the water was retweeted more than 3,700 times. St. Clair’s water saga is just one of several stories that popped up last week about poor hotel conditions in Sochi.

U.S. bobsledder Johnny Quinn, for example, was forced to break down his bathroom door after it jammed while he was taking a shower.