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Sochi 2014: Day 1 at the Olympic Winter Games

This is where the magic happens. Thousands of journalists are going to set up camp, follow the games, make phone calls and file stories in this huge building – the Main Press Centre.

Divided into two blocks, one half is for print media and the other for broadcast, this is one of the biggest press centres many of my seasoned Olympic veteran colleagues have seen.

When our shuttle bus first pulled up in front of the centre on our first day, I was blown away not only by its sheer size but also by mere speed it must have been built with. I couldn’t recall spotting anything that resembled this monster of a hub when I was here nine months ago.

To get in, everyone has to scan their accreditation (if you don’t have it you have to go back home to get it), have their bags x-rayed and undergo body searches. No food is allowed and nothing containing more than 100ml of liquid.

The inside of the building was just as dominant as the outside (see below).

We made our way to the first floor where the media working rooms were located and, again, I was struck by how big everything was: desks, chairs and TV screens as far as the eye can see. I thought the newsroom in my old paper was quite big – it was an open plan office housing up to 100 journalists, editors, sub editors, sales people, and marketing staff. But this was on a completely different scale. How loud it’s going to be once everyone arrived, I could not imagine (see picture below).

newsroom 580

For now, we had the space all to ourselves. This was day one for most of the reporters, of whom there are around 50, and we still had three weeks to go before the start of the Games.

If things get too stressful, we can always take a kip in the ‘relaxation room’! :) (see picture below)

relax 580

I quickly saw many familiar faces of people I had met at the test event. It was nice how everyone I remembered and was glad to see also remembered me and seemed fairly pleased to me too!

Then I met my supervisor: a bubbly Australian woman who had covered the Winter Games in Vancouver, the Summer Games at London 2012 and a range of other major competitions. She heads up our team that includes two seasoned journalists and me. There was meant to be another girl but she backed out a week before our arrival date because she was worried about terrorism. Hopefully, our supervisor said, we’d get a replacement sorted in the following week.

For the moment, all we had to worried about was “how to figure stuff out” – in her words, and then there was an editorial training session for all of us to attend: all reporters gathered to take in a presentation by a member of central editorial team – the guys who will receive and edit all our copy once we start writing stories – about what would be expected from us: independent, accurate, impartial and sensitive journalism.

That sounds doable. May the Games begin!

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