All Eyes on Russia (2014 Sochi Olympics Preview)

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The IOC has been a bit of a mystery in the last few years when they have announced the future hosts of the Olympics. It would start when they would award the 2014 Olympics to Sochi, Russia and it would continue when they would award the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Pyeongchang, South Korea. These places are all fairly nice places but none are known for being the safest places in the world. They are all in places that are continuing to develop and one of the biggest sports organizations in the world is giving them an opportunity to enter the national stage. This has a lot of risk along with it as these cities could pull it off and make their countries look amazing or they could fail and make their countries look foolish. The risk of the latter happening is much larger in these places than in some of the bigger and more secure countries. The Olympics will take a tour around the world at some of the unsure places to hold a major sporting event. It is a risk that the IOC has taken and one that could mean great things or terrible things for the games. As the first of these emerging cities takes focus the news is not very positive and the IOC is hoping that it is not a sign of the future. Russia has been a country that remains a mystery to a lot of people since they came out of the steel curtain. It is a country that is one of the major powers in the world yet remains somewhat left in the past. There are places that are world-class cities and yet there are places that are almost entirely undeveloped. One of these undeveloped cities was Sochi and yet they would get to host the Olympic Games. The prospect of essentially creating an Olympic city is what got the IOC’s attention and why they would give them the games. So Russia would go about trying to build a Winter Olympic town in a place that did not seem to fit. Sochi was right on the Black Sea in Southern Russia where the temperature is not none for being very winter-like. That would present a lot of issues almost immediately for the organizing committee as they would have to fight the weather to pull off the Olympics. The weather has been the least of their worries though as many more problems have come up as Sochi prepares to host the world and show what Russia can, or can’t do, on the world stage. As the organizing committee began to prepare and save snow for the Olympics the Russian government would take a very unpopular stand. They would pass a law that would outlaw “homosexual propaganda” or in other words would outlaw any public displays of homosexuality. It was a clear violation of human rights and would go against the gain of the thoughts of the majority of the world. It would set a tone for one of the strangest set of Olympic events ever.

Many would begin talking about boycotting the Olympics including those Olympians who are homosexual in order to stand up for gay rights. The talk would mainly just be talk though as most athletes would continue their plans to attend the games. In fact there will likely be many athletes who may use the games as a platform to speak up for their rights. It has been a major story leading up to the Olympics and is sure to remain one but it is not the only controversy for the games. There is the record $50 billion spending that the Sochi games has had with plenty of rumours around where a lot of that money is coming from and where it is going. Much of the money has come from wealthy Russian oil barons that have generally been allowed to do whatever they want and are now being asked to pay up. Where the money is going has also been debated as rumours of kickbacks and projects being grossly overpaid is leading many to wonder where Russia is finding their contractors. This can only be magnified by the fact that many of the projects that are required for the Olympics to continue have yet to be completed. That is very concerning considering it is only a day away from the opening ceremonies as media has already made their way to the Olympics and yet have not found it very welcoming. Hotels are not ready as reports of places without a lobby have come in from major media outlets from around the world. There are also a number of media members without rooms because their hotels have yet to be completed. Above all though the games have been marred by the constant threat of terrorist activity. It is a very real threat as Sochi is close to Georgia, a country that Russia almost broke out in a war with in 2013, and Chechnya, a section of Russia desperately wanting their independence. There have been multiple terrorist attacks in the months leading up to the games and terrorist groups have claimed that they are looking at the Olympics for a major attack with terrorists already in the city waiting for the games to start. It is the biggest concern in the Olympics and ticket sales have suffered because of it as fans are staying away for fear that something might happen. It is a possibility and if something does happen it will change the Olympics forever as Sochi could turn into a reason for the IOC never to choose a country like Russia again for fear that something serious may occur. The Sochi Olympics are a chance for the Russians to show what they can do but if anything more goes wrong it could be a display of how far Russia still needs to come as the world is watching and waiting to see what might happen.

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