Health Magazine

How Safe Is Sochi? A Q&A With Someone Who’s There

By Healthytravelblog @healthytravel1

Pokedoff_SochiMark Pokedoff is a television industry veteran who travels the globe to help broadcast some of the world’s premier sporting events. Right now, he’s in Sochi, Russia, preparing to play a role in NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics.

There’s been a lot of conversation about just how safe the Sochi Games are, particularly in light of violent protests and terrorist attacks just a few hours away. With that in mind, we caught up with the Pokedoff, who is a tape operator; in other words, he’s one of “the boys in the truck” the announcers always thank when the event is over.

This is 51-year-old Pokedoff’s fifth Olympics – he’ll be working the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and hockey, and says he’s “young enough to enjoy it and old enough to respect it.”

Here’s our Q&A with him, conducted via email on Thursday the 30th.

Healthy Travel Blog: There’s been a lot of talk about whether it’s safe to travel to Sochi for the Games. You’re there now; what do you think?

Pokedoff: I think these Olympics are as safe (or even safer) as any I’ve worked on. Security is tight as usual, and I think it’s a great environment here.

HTB: Did NBC take any extra precautions with personnel ahead of traveling to Sochi, such as giving you checklists of things to do/not do?

Pokedoff: Safety and security information has been disseminated for every Olympics and this one is no exception.  There are no restrictions on me other than using common sense.

HTB: How many hours a day will you work?  Will you have much downtime when you’re in Sochi and, if so, will you venture out to explore the city and region?

Pokedoff: I am scheduled to work 12 hours a day; during setup (this week and next) it’ll likely be less per day, and once the games start it’ll likely be 12 or more. If I get any down time I would love to take a train trip up to the mountain venues – that is at the top of my list. I have heard great things about it. The mountains make it look like it is a Winter Olympics. Here at the coast it is quite temperate – much like Vancouver four years ago.

HTB: You travel a lot for work. That can strain someone’s health. So how do you stay in shape – regular exercise routine, etc.?

Pokedoff: As someone who loves doing cardio indoors, it is great to be able to work out whenever I can. That is the case with most of my freelance work. I always try to make time to work out every other day when I am on the road, and at least 3 times a week when I’m at home.

HTB: You’re there for a month. Will you have a chance to exercise? Are there facilities you can use? How about healthy eating options?

Pokedoff: One of the great things about working the Olympics is the top-notch facility NBC sets up for its employees, including a commissary with many healthy choices. The broadcast center also features a gym, which is free to all media.

HTB: Any “healthy travel advice” for people heading to the Games?

Pokedoff: The hardest part of the trip is getting here, and now that I’ve been here for 5 days I really have settled in. Sleep is critical when you’re working long days and I am starting to get my rest.

It is amazing to be part of such a Global event as well as see an amazing part of the world.


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