Allergies in Sochi: The High Cost of Development
This recent report of an athlete withdrawing from the Winter Olympics in Sochi is hardly the first of its kind. Several athletes have complained about the air quality in Sochi despite its reputation as a pristine redoubt for Russia’s rich and famous.
The likely culprit is an accelerated construction effort that turned this seaside village into an international sporting complex in just a few short years. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, the athlete in question, floated this possibility to the AP:
“There’s a lot of athletes that have some allergy against something here,” Svindal told The Associated Press. “I think it’s something from the concrete that’s in the air, like some fine dust. When I got here, I felt it, too. The doctors knew exactly what it was, because they gave me allergy medicine right away. It helps, but it’s kind of draining.”
Urban pollution is a common source of allergies, and a leading cause of asthma in children and adults. Svindal may well be onto something when he mentions concrete dust in the air; a number of environmental organizations have called the construction efforts in Sochi an unprecedented ecological disaster for the area.