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Sochi Olympic hotels report construction delays

By Ivan Watson, CNN
February 3, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The opening of the Gorki Grand Hotel is delayed; it's "having some troubles with the water"
  • Crews are still hard at work on the Gorki Gorod, a cluster of six- and seven-story buildings
  • Swissotel Sochi will accept its first customers just before the Olympics open, manager says
  • The International Olympic Committee is downplaying concerns

Sochi, Russia (CNN) -- Four days before the opening of the Winter Games, some of the hotels being built for the Olympics are reporting construction delays that could affect the tens of thousands of visitors expected to descend on the region.

The Sochi 2014 organizing committee announced that at least one of the hotels built to accommodate visiting journalists would not be ready.

"Dear Media," the committee wrote, "this is to inform you that the official opening of the hotel Gorki Grand has been postponed due to technical reasons."

In a subsequent phone conversation, Anna Efimchenko, a Sochi 2014 spokeswoman, explained to CNN that the Gorki Grand Hotel was "having some troubles with the water."

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The committee said it would temporarily accommodate guests in another hotel.

In the seven years since Russia won its bid to host the 2014 Olympics, authorities have built a highway, a high-speed train line, electric power stations and an entire series of resort villages in the Caucasus Mountains, where the alpine sport events will take place. The massive project is estimated to have cost more than $50 billion.

But on Monday, construction crews were still hard at work in Gorki Gorod, a cluster of six- and seven-story buildings on the banks of the Mzymta River, a short distance from the Olympic ski jump.

Road crews were hammering in paving stones on a sidewalk, while yellow cranes stretched up to buildings where the interior was clearly still under construction.

The delays appear to have affected at least one international hotelier.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, the manager of Swissotel Sochi said his hotel would accept its first customers on the eve of the opening of the Olympics, rather than in January as had originally been planned.

"It was slightly delayed, we actually planned to open already last month," Swissotel's Oliver Kuhn told Reuters. "Certainly I have worked in areas where the construction speed was a bit faster than here, but at the end of the day we have reached our target to be ready for the Games."

The International Olympic Committee is downplaying concerns.

"There are still some issues to be solved as it is always just before the Games, but also in this respect we are in contact with the organizing committee and we hope the situation will be solved in the next couple of days," IOC president Thomas Bach told journalists.

Athletes have been arriving to this Black Sea resort in recent days. The Winter Olympics are set to open Friday.

As for the Gorki Grand Hotel, it continues to advertise on its website "the elegance of hotel's 194 rooms and suites," and it still offers online reservations for February, next to the announcement "Opening Soon."

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