An Australian working in Sochi, Johnnie Balfour, posted photos of Sochi two weeks before the games including a video of his living conditions and a report on his struggle to get paid by Sochi officials on his tumblr blog this week. But it would appear he’s been gagged.
The story of Johnnie’s Sochi experience was picked up by hundreds of news sites including Yahoo Canada, the International Business Times in the UK, Fox Sports and The Australian and his posts were shared thousands of times on social media and discussed in web forums.
The accredited shaping expert from Cronulla in Sydney and now living in Canada built the course at Cypress Mountain for the Vancouver Olympics and had been contracted by the ROC to build a course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park for the Sochi Winter Olympics that commence on February 7.
“In the six months leading up to this moment, we have been in constant contact with these people, sorting out contracts, methods of payment etc. So far nothing has gone as planned. They have wanted to pay us into Russian bank accounts for a few months now and we have fought them long and hard on this point. Yes, you read that correctly, they want us to open Russian bank accounts. How do we do this? Well, we don’t, apparently they have already opened accounts for us! How the hell they can open an account in my name without my details or signature is beyond me and sounds very dodgy!
Before we left home we didn’t win the fight about the bank accounts but we did win the fight for them to pay us within ten days of us signing the contract. Well, that has now changed too. They are now telling us that they will pay us ten days AFTER we have gone home. I have a very strong feeling that we are never going to get paid. During the meeting I told them on no uncertain terms that what they are trying to do is total bullshit and if they had disclosed this information earlier, I would not have agreed to come here”
Then Johnnie went silent.
His last post saying “I’ve been told to shut up.”
All that remains of his Sochi posts is one picture of him and a colleague with the caption “fun times in Sochi.”
If this is true (and neither his job loss or safety threats have been confirmed as yet) then there’s a big difference between losing your job for dissing your employers/clients online and having your safety threatened.
January 25 update – we found him.
Was Johnnie brave and courageous or naive for posting his experience? Do you think Sochi will be a success and what are your concerns, if any?