Friday, February 7, 2014

Olympic-Sized Problems

Every Olympics has its problems. Vancouver had a fear of insufficient snow. Salt Lake City had financial issues, and many in the last several cycles faced the threat of terrorism. However, it is looking as though the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia have those problems and many, many more.

Since 2013, Russia has faced international criticism over a controversial law banning so-called “gay propaganda.” This law has been seen by the global community as a violation of human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of association. While the stories about human rights violations have been circling for several months, there are other problems that have recently come to light as athletes and members of the press have begun to arrive in Sochi.

There is Sochi’s systematic killing of stray dogs:

There are massively over budget projects and unpaid workers:

Seriously? A slope that costs $200,000,000?

There are hotels that, according to reporters, are falling apart (skip to 2:17):

It seems that people from outside of Russia are not even showing up. According to an article from the Associated Press:
Fears about terrorism and the hassle of reaching Sochi from points abroad may be keeping some foreigners away - and undermining Vladimir Putin's plans to transform Sochi into a magnet for international tourism. 
A train traveling between Olympic sites and downtown Sochi cheerily announces to visitors in English: "We wish you a pleasant journey!" But on a recent ride, its seats were half empty. And a sweep through four train cars found ... not a single foreign fan.
Usually when a nation/city hosts the Olympics, it is their time to shine and show the world what they are capable of. Unfortunately for Russia, these games are putting a spotlight on their corruption, human rights violations, and overall inability to host the Games. There are already stories of peaceful protesters being arrested. Many people are boycotting the Games. The leaders of several nations are refusing to attend, including the leaders of France, Germany, and the United States. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has denounced some of Russia’s controversial policies. Whether or not Russia can rally to salvage the Games remains to be seen. One thing is clear: the International Olympic Committee needs to apply stricter scrutiny in choosing host cities in the future.

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