Critical Response: 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games

Hi All,

With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics just on the horizon, so too then are all sorts of new political debates. The world has already begun to address the discrimination of homosexuals at the games, as Russia, in comparison to other parts of the world, is not as open to the idea of same-sex sexuality as the country has anti-gay laws in place. Security will also be a hot topic at the games, as extremist groups have recently begun to target Russia in a series of terrorist acts.

Zirin (2013) suggested that hosting nations taxpayer dollars are used in any way shape or form to ensure that the games run as smoothly as possible. Governments will go to whatever extreme needed to get the job done. They believe that the economic value of hosting the Olympics far exceeds the need to follow laws, regulations and rules. Zirin uses the upcoming 2016 Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympic games has the example in his book. He points the demolition and destruction of residential and long-standing areas in the regions around the Maracana stadium. Brazil’s government, much like China’s (during the 2008 Olympics) has decided to do whatever it needs to, even if that included “cleansing”, to prepare and have the infrastructure for the games.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are no different. Putin and the Russian government have already been criticized for rigging a contest that was to determine the mascot of the games. They have also come under scrutiny for cleansing as well. The land in which much of the games are being held on, has for a long time been inhabited by the Adyghe people, who are now be forced to relocate. Besides the polluting and ruining the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve, the Sochi National Park is also being seen as another area that will be damaged. What this shows, is that like Zirin explains, the Olympics have surpassed the idea of being founded on the spirit of sport, and are instead based on the notions of power, politics and policy.

With all of that said, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been no held in aiding this shift in sport. They are known for being an organization that pushes whatever they wish upon hosting cities, and also take advantage of the athletes and tourists who attend the games. We need to look no further than their power to delay the upcoming 2014 Formula One Russian Grand Prix as they felt it could “disrupt preparations for the Olympic Games.” But worst of all, in my opinion, it is we the people we are doing the most wrong in regards to the shift of sport and the Olympics. We need to stand up and make organizations and governments accountable for their actions. Maybe the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be the beginning of this movement?

Jamie Taverner

Zirin, D. (2013). Today’s World Cup and Olympics: Invictus in Reverse. Game Over (pp.      50-72). New York: The New Press.

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