Sochi's hotel concerns realized too late

The International Olympic Committee's chief coordinator for the Sochi Games said the organization sounded a "red alert" in September because delays in hotel construction were posing a serious threat to the event.

This according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, which interviewed Jean-Claude Killy, the IOC's chief supervisor of the 2014 Olympics, who offered the first public explanation for disgruntled travelers to the Games and their ensuing jocular outrage that permeated social media.

Killy said that despite making 40 trips to Sochi in the seven years leading up to the Games, he didn't understand the depth of the problem until last fall.

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"We realized it too late," said Killy. Focused on getting the sports venues done, he added, private developers and oligarchs devoted less attention to hotel projects.

"All the alarms went up in September," Killy said. "I made a special trip. I said, 'What do we need to do?' There is no way to organize a Games if you cannot accommodate people."

Killy said he declared a "red alert," which required expanding a workforce that he said ultimately totaled 100,000 people working around the clock, seven days a week.

Killy told The Wall Street Journal that a key to addressing problems was his access to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who IOC officials say provided unprecedented access for a head of state.

"We always had the capacity to go to the top man," said Killy. "When you become friends with this guy and ask for something and you see it within two hours, that's very impressive."

For the Games, Sochi reportedly needed to build 22,000 hotel rooms, a new highway 30 miles into the mountains and a train line that would run beside it. The bill would eventually rise to more than $50 billion.

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