Friday Links: Was Sochi the Right Location for the Olympics?


Photo from ABC News

Hotels in Olympic host city, Sochi, are not quite ready to accommodate journalists, reporters, or athletes with buildings still under construction.

There is great controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics; however, it is not concerning the medal count. Quickly becoming one of the worst locations for the Olympics yet, Sochi, Russia is not fit for the event for many reasons.

First, Sochi has a large amount of uncompleted and unsafe facilities open to visitors of the Olympics. It has become a running joke of the current Winter Olympics as journalists and visitors document their experiences on social networks. Just listing a few of the discovered issues within the facilities, visitors have experienced undrinkable, yellow water, hotel lobbies still under construction, and stray dogs running throughout the establishment.

In addition, there’s risk of terrorism within Russia. Russian authorities have a long history of having to deal with extremists; however, there have been several terrorist bombing outside of Sochi in cities like Volgograd, where suicide bombers killed dozens of citizens. Jihadists, Chechen terrorists, and Islamic terrorists have become an active problem in Russia. Chechen radical leader Doku Umarov declared that his enemies are Russia and “also America, England, Israel, and anyone who wages war against Islam and Muslims.” Although there have been no threats against Sochi or the Olympics, the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. Military will have two ships and other assets on the ready just in case.

Also, Sochi is a warm city by the Black Sea with recent temperatures in the 50 to 60 degree range. This makes the snow unqualified and slippery for the athletes, and the risk of injury even higher than normal. So far, there has been a broken back, a broken jaw, and an assortment of head injuries within athletes.

Although these are all pressing issues, perhaps the most politically and socially scandalous is the gay rights issue within Russia. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993. The new laws do not ban homosexual acts but place restrictions on what can be said to children under 18 about homosexuality. The law states that it seeks to “protect the younger generation from the effects of homosexual propaganda”. It says the “promotion” of homosexuality, including giving the impression that gay relationships are normal, could harm children because they are not capable of critically assessing such information.

Although many gay rights activists believe the Olympics the perfect time for a rally to be made, Winter Olympic athletes are not so sure. Russian officials have warned the Olympic athletes that if they display any kind of “homosexual propaganda”, it will result in their arrest.

“No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable,” Mutko told R-Sport, a Russian sports website.

Overall, Sochi is quickly becoming the worst location for the Olympics yet.