Countdown is on to Olympic opening ceremonies, but will Sochi be ready?
Published Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:51AM EST
With 10 days to go until the Olympic opening ceremonies, officials are scrambling to complete the finishing touches in Sochi.
But with lumber and construction debris strewn outside a number of Olympic venues, some are questioning whether the Games will be ready in time.
The freestyle ski course is one of many Olympic sites in Sochi that remain under construction.
The site's manager recently told the New York Times that the progress that was made in the area is almost unimaginable.
"Two years ago, there was almost nothing here," Aleksandr Savilov said, shrugging off the delays. "Even if it's not finished, the snow will cover it."
While construction debris can be found outside a number of venues, CTV's Joy Malbon, who’s on the ground in Sochi, said "what I really don’t see are the construction workers who are supposed to finish the job to get everything ready."
"As we walked around and looked at some of the different venues where ice hockey will be, where the skating will be, there's still a lot of construction out there. There is lots of lumber and not enough crews."
Malbon told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday that when reporters question whether construction will wrap up in time for the Feb. 7 opening ceremonies, they’re told that's everything is on track.
"Everybody says everything is going to be fine, this is Russia," she said. "But I look around and I see a lot mud, I see a lot of construction that needs to be done."
Russia has spent about $51 billion to deliver the Sochi Olympics, making it the most expensive games ever, even though as a winter event it hosts fewer athletes than summer games do.
Much of the costs went towards Sochi’s transformation from an aging Soviet-era summer resort town to a gleaming 21st century winter city.
"They call this the Winter Games, but I've seen more palm trees than winter," Malbon noted.
She said while the new buildings are impressive, visitors don't have to travel too far into the Olympic village to find some older, dilapidated buildings.
However, Russian Olympic officials have found a crafty way to deal with that problem.
"If it's deemed ugly by the Russian Olympic people, they tend to paper over it. And I mean that literally," Malbon said. "I've seen these banners with palm trees on it, lots of banners with snow and mountains. So anything that is not deemed Olympic beautiful, they paper it over."
On Monday, an anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny launched an interactive website that paints a vivid picture of the suspected cost overruns and conflicts of interest at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
President Vladimir Putin, however, has rejected claims about rampant corruption in Sochi, saying the inflated prices were due to the honest mistakes of investors who underestimated the costs.
With files from The Associated Press