Fishing banned in Sochi Olympic toilets (seriously)

Canadian Olympic snowboarder Sebastien Toutant discovered an odd sign in the toilets over at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  The sign proscribes a number of activities that are not permitted in the toilets, including, apparently, fishing.

I am not making this up.

It has to be seen to believed.


In addition to fishing, other activities that are not permitting in the toilets at the Sochi Olympics include:

* Peeing while standing up.

* Vomiting (or perhaps praying while Muslim, it’s not entirely clear which).

* Sitting on top of the toilet, Turkish style (who would do that?).

* And injecting heroin.

Here’s the entire sign:


Sochi’s toilets were already late-night fodder due to the discovery that several of the Olympic bathrooms have two toilets in one stall, more commonly referred to as “love toilets.”


Bloomberg reports that the Russians have gotten quite testy about the love toilets, and came up with all sorts of phony excuses for them, which eventually got shot down.  So lord only knows what they’re going to come up with for the fishing ban.  (Oh, and feel free to propose your own suggestions, for what the Russians actually meant for the various things banned in the picture above – you can post them in the comments.)

But that’s not all. Others are reporting that theyr’e seeing warnings not to flush the toilets at all:


Then there’s this, from another reporter:



And two more from Sporting News:



And the situation in the hotels isn’t much better. Here’s what passes for tap water in Sochi, via Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune:



In view of all of this, Spectrum Human Rights on Facebook has come up with a new Olympic logo:

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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87 Responses to “Fishing banned in Sochi Olympic toilets (seriously)”

  1. EX-EUROPEAN says:

    What do you mean ‘we”?
    You pregnant? Or, just jealousy and inferiority complex victim.
    Grow up boy..

  2. Jaqi Wilt says:

    Who fishes in a toilet bowl? Perhaps it’s some kind of fad happening in Russia that they’ve decided to ban it for health reasons.


  3. Auri Gade says:

    We’ve been guffawing at such signs from countries like China and the like. It’s Russia’s turn this time.


  4. no9 says:

    American propaganda. I am from EU and I want to congrats to Russia for excellent games. As for my fellow Americans… enjoy your mental boycott of the olympics. Watch hockey only (and toilet seats) and bitch about everything else. As always you never see out of the sandbox you stick your head into… when you gonna finally realize that we dont need you and we dont want you.

  5. Lina Miny says:

    I am starting to love the Sochi toilet humor. More please!


  6. mike says:

    50 million people are on food stamps 93 million out of work and then add the ones on unemployment for 99 weeks and Obama is expanding it everyday, what more do you want the first socialist half black president to do?

  7. ZombieStomp says:

    Oh, come on. At least Aussies and Canadians can suss joke pics from real ones. Straight from the Sochi Olympics fake photos edition:

  8. Джонхуебон says:

    OMG these Americans! Impudent and silly. Made a photo of the toilets and you brag, at whom obosranny/ Тупыыыыыыыые америкосы.

  9. Джонхуебон says:

    Америкакашки! Нафоткали своих сральников из своих небоскребов и выдаете эту х@йню за Сочинские туалеты. Только идиот поверит вам и вашим тупым джоно-джековским фоткам (такие клички мы даем русским собакам). Вы американские февральские буратины и в голове у вас всегда февраль.

  10. rmgeffert says:

    chicken pecker

  11. Johnny says:

    OMG russians are so f.cked up!

  12. iHeartHockey31 says:

    I’m glad to hear someone who has experienced a lot of travel confirm this is indeed NOT a cultural mishap. It supports my concern that this could possibly be some type of ‘message’ from workers / employees regarding the conditions under which they had to work. It isn’t difficult to imagine construction workers possible having to use facilities with such conditions. Perhaps this is their way of sending a message — if it’s acceptable for workers to have facilities with such conditions — it should be acceptable for elite athletes & others to do the same.

  13. iHeartHockey31 says:

    My understanding is Putin was attempting to use the Olympics to show the world that Russia is NOT as behind as well all think & to dispel some of those myths. Considering the amount of money that was [theoretically] spent on preparing the site, there should have been a means of creating a filtration system whereby [at the very least] the water was acceptable to use for bathing.
    I’ve had so many issues in so many places [even within the US] with tap water, I only drink & even cook [soups & pastas] with bottled water. I have never been anywhere [even internationally & on airplanes] whereby I was warned [specifically] that the water is so dangerous it would cause damage if making contact with my ‘face’. Why the ‘face’ ? At that point wouldn’t it be better to recommend the water not make any contact with skin altogether? What sort of chemical is OK to touch / get everywhere else but causes issues specific to the face? Such a specific warning makes it seem like they know exactly WHAT is in the water. Which makes me wonder if whatever it is wasn’t accidental but somehow got into the water stream.
    Sochi was always a resort city within Russia. While needing a significant improvement project to get up to Olympic standards, if there was an issue with the water supply due to natural circumstances. I’d imagine people would have known about it long before now. [Sort of like how we know to be careful with the drinking water in Mexico] Having a caustic chemical which is known to specifically cause issues when coming in contact with facial skin doesn’t sound like a naturally occurring issue that I’ve ever been warned about during international travel. Do we even know WHAT was in the water at this point?

  14. iHeartHockey31 says:

    Given the unlikelihood everyone involved in the construction was completely unaware that ‘chairs’ weren’t required around a toilet, I can’t help but think the entire ‘flaw’ may have been INTENTIONAL. Was this an attempt by employees to embarrass or shame their employers and or demonstrate conditions under which they personally worked? Is it possible workers were provided with such inadequate facilities while constructing the site this was a personal statement about such work conditions. We’re all familiar with the ‘portable toilets’ often found at construction sites here in the US. What if ‘luxuries’ such a privacy and proper working toilets weren’t afforded to those responsible for the actual construction of the site. Could this have been a demonstration to show the world conditions they were forced to work?

    I’m only hypothesizing here based on the idea a flaw as significant as this couldn’t possibly have been accidental. The fact that so many — ridiculous excuses have been offered in explanation when a simple “partitions delivered late” or “got lost during shipping” would have been a significantly more believable ‘excuse’ for the ‘mishap’ makes me wonder if something more isn’t going on here. We can all imagine a typical construction site here in the US resembles. As you do so, think the significant size of land that would have been leveled off, cleared of trees & until a sizeable portion of the construction was completed, there wouldn’t be a lot of places whereby one might have some privacy. While I have no idea if this was the case, I can’t help but wonder how an employee working on such a site would feel if for financial or other reasons, no port-a-potty or minimal rest rooms too inconvenient for all the workers to use were provided. Workers may have had to resort to taking ‘bio breaks’ in public. Or ‘together’. If severe work conditions and a significant class disparity were present, is it possible employees were supervised during ‘bio-breaks’? Perhaps even if temporary facilities were provided, given the speed with which the site needed to be built, could worker breaks have been heavily regulated such that everyone was given a short amount of time — at the same time — for which to ‘do their business’ such that limited facilities forced workers to perform such duties in public?

    In one tweet or report about the funny restroom mishap in Sochi it was mentioned that partitions ‘were being removed’ by workers / employees. Which implies IT HAD a partition. WHY would a worker / employee remove EXCEPT to make a point? We often hear stories about workers in many Asian countries being forced to work in sweatshops at young ages for long hours and very little pay [I’m not referring to Russia here, it’s usually other countries, often the far east that we hear about these things]. We hears about these poor work conditions and when we listen to individual stories, there’s often a [unsympathetic] supervisor responsible for limiting employee break times. There’s often a lot of verbal abuse & constant supervision. While I am not aware in any way that this occurred there, knowing that work conditions in other countries are not necessarily like those here in the US & that many of the laws designed to protect employees from overbearing employers don’t exist in other countries, I can’t help but wonder what conditions were like for the construction workers building the Olympic site in Sochi.
    We hear about the speed with which the site was built which implies a lot of workers, putting in a lot of time. I can’t help but wonder how closely employees were supervised. [Even here in the US we hear stories about employees being ‘monitored’ or ‘watched’ by employers — often under the guise that theft was a concern.] Construction workers that actual perform manual labor often don’t have the highest social standings, even here in the US. Does such social status apply in Russia as well, despite their political system? Is it so far-fetched of an idea that supervisors of the site construction looked down on those performing the actual work? If supervisors and employers were offered bonuses & rewarded for quickly completing phases of the project, could such rewards be incentive to ‘push’ employees? Were provided facilities too far away from some areas of the site that supervisors ‘preferred’ workers to take care of their business elsewhere? Could the rapid timetable have led to very minimal breaks? Were employee breaks monitored so closely that everyone had their break at the same time for a small amount of time — resulting in the necessity of ‘group bio breaks’? Were construction workers assumed to have such low social status supervisors might have seen them as unworthy of the luxury of privacy during these breaks? I wonder these things because the more I see and hear about the restroom mishaps, while finding the situation humorous, I can’t help but see how this could have been unintentional. Especially the image of the chairs being placed around one of the fixtures. I can’t imagine a single person — even those who possibly might have to live with such conditions due for economical reasons — thinking chairs would be needed in a toilet stall. I can’t imagine a scenario, between the removed partitions to the deliberate setup & arrangement of the ‘spectator’ chairs whereby the bathroom mishap was somehow unintentional. I’m very curious to hear from some of the actual workers responsible for the ‘mistake’ how such a mistake occurred. And / or curious to ensure the safety of such employees. Even in the most unlikely scenario the entire situation was an error based on cultural differences between the workers building the sites & the rest of the world, is Russia going to let this embarrassment go by without eventually putting the blame on someone somewhere. Perhaps internally. President Putin has to be fuming by now over the embarrassment ONTOP of what may very well be unintentional issues & delays expected to occur with new facilities.
    I’m even beginning to wonder about some of the other issues. Is the ‘no fishing’ sign possibly an ‘inside joke’ amongst employees? Was there verbal harassment regarding employees taking extra long bio breaks that supervisors made sarcastic remarks related to ‘fishing’? Was there a situation whereby a worker was punished or treated negatively after getting sick [vomiting] on the work site such that workers that the ‘no throwing up’ in the toilet instruction is actually based on a rule that applied to employees indicating something a negative reaction from supervisors if they stopped working to ‘throw up’?
    I’m even wondering about the water. Do not apply to face is VERY specific. Do not drink, do not allow contact with skin would sound like a more general warning should a chemical have been recently discovered in the water. The idea that the hotel seemed to know the water was dangerous and / or exactly what may have been in the water specifically to cause damage when exposed to the skin on one’s face makes the presence of whatever it is in the water seem intentional [by someone, who apparently alerted the hotel as to exactly what was in the water] Do we know yet exactly what was in the water? Has anyone been able to smuggle it out for analysis? What is the explanation for a [caustic?] chemical ‘accidentally’ ending up in the water? Is this too potentially another message from employees? Was there some sort of ‘accident’ that occurred by which unsafe working conditions resulted in a facial injury to someone.
    If 3% of the hotels weren’t going to be ready in time — wouldn’t there have been a little more effort to ensure the MEDIA at least was taken care of — to avoid embarrassment regarding the ‘incomplete’ room? Or did something happen to / in those rooms rendering them uninhabitable at the last minute such that the hotels were thrown off by the ‘mishaps’ putting the hotels in an awkward situation whereby the current ‘mess’ regarding displaced media reporters & journalists made for a less embarrassing news story than whatever caused the ‘sudden unexpected delay’ with 3% of the rooms? I can’t imagine how construction would be too incomplete that the rooms were inhabitable yet close enough to being ready, only an extra day or so was needed.
    I just can’t help but wonder if somehow in someway someone is trying to send the media a message in the hopes that at least one crazy conspiracy seeking journalist might be able to uncover whatever it is they’re trying to say.
    Is some of the ‘confusion’ impacting the athletes or only the reporters? If impacting the athletes is it specific to any country or countries and/or affecting the Russian athletes as well? Is it possible if workers weren’t ‘sending a message’ the people of Russia might be creating an uncomfortable experience for visiting athletes so as to give a slight advantage to their home nation.

  15. Bomer says:

    It finally decided to pop up with an ad for me.


  16. Alex says:

    By prohibiting flushing toilet paper, they want you to throw the paper to trash bin. Its mother ЯUSSIA, comrades

  17. Kenton Forshee says:

    ROFL! I’m laughing so hard. I’m don’t know what to say about some of this. The toilet with the audience is just too much!!

  18. The_Fixer says:

    BTW, here’s what it looks like:

  19. Silver_Witch says:

    Ohhh no I am showing my age….I know it now – didn’t know it has a shortcut name. Thanks.

  20. karmanot says:

    Prince Albert

  21. The_Fixer says:

    I have known some very overweight guys who have to sit because they can’t see what they’re doing down there. Belly obscures it.

    It’s a real problem here in Wisconsin where the beer bellies are big, and the chairs are scared.

  22. The_Fixer says:

    The snowboarders have already been complaining that their courses are “challenging”, and Shawn White has hurt his wrist during practice runs.

    This does not bode well.

  23. The_Fixer says:

    I get the gray box with an ad in it like perljammer does, and I am running Firefox on Linux. With Opera on Linux, I don’t get a complete page load (it tells me that it loads 262 of 263 elements). I suspect that the missing element is the gray box with the ad in it.

    I’ve been noticing it since yesterday, IIRC.

  24. Henry Owen says:

    see above

  25. Tor says:

    Yes, some men have Pennsylvanias on their penises.

  26. Tor says:

    Thanks. I did not get the anti-shooting-up icon the first time I saw it. You do have to admit the “artist” has a sense of humor.

  27. Tor says:

    I think you answered your own question. ;-)

    I remember a story here at America Blog, where – was it Dubai? – a new city of massive, modern high-rises, there is no sewer system whatsoever. The stuff is put in tanker trucks and hauled out to the desert to a “treatment plant.”

  28. CrazyTerry says:

    Considering a lot of the developing world gets new infrastructure as they grow, how freaking tough is it for these morons to plan sewage systems with TP in mind?

  29. eahopp says:

    The Number 2 judge is from East Germany!

  30. Henry Owen says:

    Here’s an ad I just saw…

  31. Henry Owen says:

    I’m seeing it, too, with the same browser and version of Windows.

  32. If it EVER has an ad in it, PLEASE take a photo and send it to me.

  33. Silver_Witch says:


  34. lynchie says:

    and ball washers

  35. Indigo says:

    Of course. I grew up in the days when outhouses in rural and small town America were still in use. I’ve traveled in Asia, urban and rural, and seen amazing things. I’ve used toilette à la turc in rural Asia as well as urban Paris, no problems. But I’ve never seen the tomfoolery the Soviets . . . um . . . post-Soviets have generated in Sochi. They’re behaving ridiculously, financial corruption included. It doesn’t take an urbane glance over world cultures to recognize nonsense and they’ve got it in abundance.

  36. BillFromDover says:


  37. goulo says:

    Some pretty funny pictures!

    Squatting instead of sitting to poop is common in many places, and supposedly much healthier according to many articles I’ve seen over the years.

    So that particular sign is reasonably explained as targeted to foreign visitors from countries where people squat to poop; the toilets are probably not strong enough to support a person’s entire weight.

  38. Bomer says:

    I’ve been seeing it. Occasionally it has an ad in it. I’m using Firefox and Windows 7.

  39. BillFromDover says:

    I don’t see shit.

  40. BillFromDover says:

    You have a friend in Jesus.

  41. BillFromDover says:

    I thought it meant “Don’t taser your genitalia.”

    BTW, what is the international symbol for “Puke on the floor instead”?

  42. BillFromDover says:

    No fishing?

    What bait does one use for a condom?

  43. NioOnMaui says:

    shaded grey box bottom of screen, taking all my effort not to click on it.

  44. emjayay says:

    Maybe they also have urinals like most men’s rooms.

  45. Strepsi says:

    I think that’s the unfolding shock and horror for journalists and the public of how much Putin has set back Russia in his never-ending reign… for most of us, we thought Russia WAS a first-world nation!

    P.S. I read somewhere (can’t find link) that at the height of the Cold War in 1968 Russia and the U.S. had the same life expectancy: 69 years. Today, in the U.S. life expactancy is 78 years and in Russia 66.

  46. MyrddinWilt says:

    Oh and historically, the communal loo was the big social meeting place in Roman times.×397.jpg

  47. MyrddinWilt says:

    There seems to be an explanation for the double and quintuple toilets. All that has happened is that the plumbers installed the loos but the partitions haven’t been installed. That much is standard practice. Its much easier to install stuff without the partitions in place.

    But here is the real eye-opener. The games start this week and they still haven’t finished most of the hotels. They don’t have WiFi for the journalists to file their stories. They don’t have beds in some cases. And finishing stuff at the last minute is really hard with all the chaos of people arriving for the games and the security.

    When the US olympics occurred in the US, one of the hotel chains asked the organization I go to conferences with three times a year to hold their event in SLC three months ahead of the games as part of their prep work. They wanted to run some medium sized conferences to get the hotel fully up to speed. So we ended up in brand new a five star hotel. For the Sotchi games they are not ready the week of the games.

    This is a slow motion cluster-fuck about to unroll before our eyes.

  48. nicho says:

    This is all pretty funny, but I’m concerned about how much this is costing me as a taxpayer. I read that we’ve deployed two warships to the region and have sent a platoon of FBI agents to provide security. That probably doesn’t include all the mercenaries who work for the State Dept., etc. How much is this costing taxpayers? And at a time when we’re taking food away from poor people. Can’t we get the US Olympic committee to finance their own commercial ventures? Why can’t Coke and McDonalds pay for this heightened security?

  49. pericles9 says:

    What would be the image for “Sexting Prohibited”?
    I also love the theater seating! “The performance may not begin until all participants are seated.”

  50. Henry Owen says:

    When I click the ‘x’ it says “blocked by NSA.”

  51. Naja pallida says:

    We really take it for granted that in most places in the US we can just turn on a faucet and get fresh drinking water. At least in those places where the socipoathic legislature hasn’t colluded with corporate douche bags to taint the water supply, like West Virginia. Many places in the world, even those with full plumbing, do not recommend consuming water directly from the tap. Drinking water treatment and safety is very much the measure of a first world nation. The sad part is, many of the people living in those places don’t have much choice but to drink the water whether it is safe or not. Not everyone can afford to buy gallons upon gallons of bottled water to live their daily lives.

  52. heimaey says:

    Seriously. I’ll be shocked if nothing happens.

  53. heimaey says:

    Sadly that is probably an issue.

  54. perljammer says:

    Me again. It’s there with Firefox on Windows 7, but not IE 12.

  55. Naja pallida says:

    I see it when I use Chrome on Windows 7, but not with Firefox. Looks like a banner pop-over style ad that isn’t displaying properly.

  56. Matt Rogers says:

    I’m not seeing it with Firefox, but I’m also not seeing the photo.

  57. Ok thanks you, that helps. Anyone else?

  58. perljammer says:

    Yes, just like the photo (except for the red arrows and circles, of course). For what it’s worth, I don’t see it using either Safari or Chrome on 1st gen iPad.

  59. Naja pallida says:

    The signs on how to use a toilet are actually pretty commonplace throughout much of the world. I’ve seen them throughout eastern Europe, China, Australia, Malaysia… you have to remember, not everyone is familiar with the standard flush toilet that we use. When catering to an international crowd, you want to be as descriptive as possible. You don’t want people thinking it’s some kind of foot bath, or drinking water, or who knows what. And also, people try to do all sorts of strange things to avoid touching the seat of a public toilet.

    The lid/seat on upside down, the chairs in the bathroom, the double toilet stalls, and revolting water, that’s all Russian infrastructure corruption at work. The people hired to build the facilities didn’t care enough to get it right, and embezzled most of the money they were given. That in itself says they’re not ready to host the Olympics… but corruption seems to go hand in hand with the Games these days.

  60. Henry Owen says:

    I thought that last symbol meant that you shouldn’t shoot drugs while delivering a baby….

  61. You’re seeing exactly what I showed in the photo above?

  62. perljammer says:

    I’m seeing it with Firefox on Linux, but not with Firefox on OS X.

  63. Hey guys, is anyone else getting the weird gray box with an x, to close it, showing up at the bottom of the site when surfing the site with the Chrome browser? Here’s a pic of what it looks like. I’m trying to find out if this is happening beyond me, and my tech guy.

  64. karmanot says:

    You win!!! LOL

  65. gr0o says:

    All joking aside, I am very concerned for the well-being of the athletes. If Russia can’t even build a hotel, how well are the competition venues going to be managed? If there is a problem on a rink, ski hill, bobsled run, etc, someone could be very seriously injured.

  66. Erik says:

    Their aim is to keep the bathrooms clean. Your aim will help.

  67. pappyvet says:

    I Know ! I know ! Had to. ;]

  68. gr0o says:

    Yeah, I’ve traveled enough to realize that’s pretty common and it’s absolutely the least troubling things about the Sochi shitters.

  69. pappyvet says:

    Ok I’m resisting the brown trout jokes though when faced with the reality I must admit that the jokes are not as funny as this. But I am floating the idea of telling just one but I fear it may sink. ;]

  70. Indigo says:

    What bothers me is not the matter of indignity so much as the impression that these are normal Russian expectations. What is to be said of a nation where toilet training is so uncertain that graphics are required to explain what to and what not to do? The only thing I can think of to say is “Not ready for the Olympics.”

  71. rerutled says:

    The water being bad is not surprising. I lived in St. Petersburg for 3
    months in 2012. I was advised by locals (and traveler resources) to use
    bottled water for any consumption, cooking, or food-related cleaning,
    as well as toothbrushing. Every corner store had an enormous selection of bottled drinking water, and people walked around with them. St. Petersburg is their New York City — second in importance only to the capital Moscow, and the center of all international culture. And you can’t drink the water.

  72. HeartlandLiberal says:

    Actually, didn’t John publicize the video of the recent study on what manner of urinating by men is least likely to result in splashback? And that study found that the most effective way to avoid splash back for men was to sit while urinating!

  73. karmanot says:

    ROTFL!!!!! I bet Number 2 is the average score.

  74. Laurel says:

    You don’t flush paper down the toilet in Brazil, either. It has to do with the capacity of the sanitary system to handle the additional solids.

  75. Naja pallida says:

    Oh, I’m sure the toilets where the IOC members go have personal ass wipers, so they never have to deal with the indignity of a public loo.

  76. Naja pallida says:

    Yesh, that photo with the chairs in front of the toilet isn’t for the audience, it’s for the judges.

  77. kirk34 says:

    Use the ultraviolet light in the bathroom. All the guys in your house will sit to pee from then on. Also, shut the lid before you flush lest you be sprayed with pee and poo.

  78. Tor says:

    Putting toilet paper in the can is very common around the world. I would venture to guess that only in North America and Northern Europe do people flush it.

  79. Tor says:

    I do – but only at home. It makes bathroom cleaning much easier.

  80. karmanot says:

    Those with PA’s do, especially when visiting home.

  81. Indigo says:

    The IOC approved all that? I think maybe the Pax Olympica is over and the time to stop the Olympic cycle is back. No more travesty Olympics.

  82. BeccaM says:

    I think I met one in my lifetime, but he had OCD.

  83. I just updated the post with a LOT more.

  84. UncleBucky says:

    Why would anyone even go there?

  85. Silver_Witch says:

    Some men do BeccaM – I have met a few.

  86. BeccaM says:

    I was going to make a witty quip about Russians being incredibly anal retentive about their bathroom habits, then decided it was way too obvious…

    And sorry, but they’re not gonna make dudes sit to pee. Won’t happen.

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