Saturday, February 8, 2014

For Better or Worse, the 2014 Olympics Has Put Sochi on the Map

I don't know about you, but for me, Sochi has never been a household name. That is, until it became the host of the 2014 Olympics.  Now you can't get people to stop talking about this place.  So obviously this made me want to learn more about it.  And no, not because of what appears to have been a beautiful opening ceremony of the Olympics.  I honestly don't really care about the Olympics games much, it's very low on my priority list, probably below sewing that hole in my winter jacket pocket and doing my taxes.  But anyway, I do find it interesting that of all the places the Olympics could have been held this year, the coveted honor went to Sochi, Russia.  Now I'm no Russia expert, but from what I've picked up, it isn't held in the highest esteem by the international community: the country doesn't really follow the rules (see here) and it has a tendency not to play well with others (see here).  Not that this is much different than many other countries necessarily (ahem, U.S., anyone?), but from what I've read in the news, these are the aspects of Russia that have stood out and have therefore created a certain perception of the country.

Opening Ceremony 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia

First off, it's important to note (and this is something I didn't realize until I looked it up), Sochi was chosen to host the 2014 Olympic Games seven years ago.  Sochi is a resort town residing along the Black Sea, but unfortunately not the most safe of places.  Before the games began, the U.S. State Department felt it necessary to issue a statement about the city being in close vicinity to Volgograd, Russia, which has had recent suicide bombings as well as a 10 year conflict with Islamic terrorists.  These conflicts have led to bombings at various populated Russian areas such as airports and hotels.



I want to make it clear that I'm not in any way biased toward the choice of city or the actual city at all.  If I had looked up Sochi and found out that it was being wrongly perceived, I would have written about that.  Instead, I am just writing the facts as I have found them to be from the most reliable sources I could find.

Russian air defense system in front of the mountains where Olympics are being held

And also, I'm sure there other viewpoints on this situation. There are much smarter people than myself weighing the pros and cons when choosing the host city of the Olympic Games.  Perhaps they thought it would be a positive step for Russia, a way to promote the country's positive aspects.  This totally makes sense. But, and again this is just my humble opinion, it does seem like a big collateral damage risk.  Also, the mayor of Sochi has come straight out and said there are no gay people in the city, excuse the pun.  Apparently he has concocted some method of detecting where gay people are, and they are conveniently not within the territorial lines of Sochi.

All I'm saying is, I'm not jumping on a plane to go over there and put myself into a heavily populated venue in Sochi, Russia, the land of the anti-rainbow.  That seems too much like putting a big bulls eye on my forehead.  And I like rainbows and gay people.  It's cool, I'll just watch the games on my trusty television from the safety of my own room. Or maybe I'll just end up doing my taxes instead. Yeah, probably the latter.