The Sochi Olympics are an Unmitigated Disaster (And the Games Have Barely Begun)

Winter Olympics in a sub-tropical region of Russia ... what could go wrong? (Screen shot from http://youtu.be/LQLNQOT0XPE)

Winter Olympics in a sub-tropical region of Russia … what could go wrong? (Screen shot from http://youtu.be/LQLNQOT0XPE)

The Winter Olympics in Sochi just started yesterday.

Things aren’t going well.

So far I don’t think I’ve seen one piece of positive press come out of the games — other than the fact that Jamaica has a bobsled team that was largely funded by the internet, which is undeniably awesome. A story like that is great because it really reminds you how much people want to help others fulfill their dreams have serious nostalgia for the 90s.

But besides the Jamaican bobsled team … I got nothing. So far these games are only bad in all the ways that something like this can be bad. Seriously, you can literally choose which type of miserable story you want to read.

For your so-bad-it’s-actually-funny bad, please see the lodging situation. Even though it’s the most expensive Olympics in history, accommodations are comically inept. Door knobs are falling off with the slightest touch, water is emerging from faucets that can burn your face off, and workers are squatting in unfinished rooms. And the toilets! Don’t even get the journalists in Sochi started on the toilet situation. Also, there’s this.

Not in a laughing mood? How about something more sinister for you? There’s been widespread corruption in the preparation for the games. In fact, a heroin kingpin is a large reason that the games were given to Sochi in the first place.

Incredibly and almost impossibly evil supervillains not your thing? Would you like a little dispiriting news to go with your Olympics? Well, Sochi has a stray animal issue, in large part because people abandoned their animals when they were relocated so that the buildings and “infrastructure” for the games could be built. To solve that issue, officials in Sochi decided to hire a company to exterminate the dogs and cats that roamed the streets. Thankfully, dog rescuers have started to save the animals that had been condemned to death (so I guess that is another bit of good news after all).

Of course, the worst and most depressing news to come from these games is Russia’s law on gay “propaganda” and the country’s numerous civil rights abuses. As a whole, the country seems to be headed down a regressive path and the build up to these Olympics has only highlighted that disturbing trend further. Sadly, it seems like it will get worse before it gets any better.

*****

If you love the Olympics and/or I just ruined your day by making you aware of all this, I’m sorry. Don’t fret too much, though, because the narrative of these games will undoubtedly shift as the events get into full swing and an athlete does something remarkable. Then, all the stories will be of athletes overcoming great odds and competitors tragically failing after countless hours of training. It will drown out the negative press that has surrounded the games. We’ll all get behind our respective flags and the athletes representing them.

And, while that will be nice in the sense that there’s only so much horrible news a person can take, I’m not sure what to do with that shift. What are we collectively doing as consumers of the games when we allow ourselves to be distracted from these serious human rights violations by something as inconsequential as a piece of medal being hung around someone’s neck? Why do we give our athletes a free pass when it comes to not only participating in a country with such a terrible human rights record but also in helping showcase it? Why don’t we expect and demand to see athletes take a stand against injustice, as Tommie Smith and John Carlos did at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City? Why do we, the viewers, lend validity to the host country by watching and supporting the games?

To be clear, I don’t have the definitive answers to any of these questions, and this wasn’t an excuse to get on my high horse, either. I will watch the Olympics, particularly the hockey (because there’s nothing quite like Olympic hockey), and I’ll root for the athletes representing the US. For a while, I might be able to forget about those questions I proposed above.

But we can’t or at least we shouldn’t ignore those questions forever.

They won’t solve themselves no matter how much we’d like them to.

______________________________________________________________________________

CharlieCharlie Crespo (@Little_Utopia) is the editor-in-chief of Little Utopia.

Previously from Charlie Crespo:
Viral Video of the Week: Epic Chess Match
How Will Super Bowl XLVIII Affect Peyton Manning’s Legacy?
Someone Please Hire Me to do This
Viral Video of the Week: FLOTUS Dunks on Everyone
Friday Food News; or, MY BRAIN EXPLODED AFTER I LEARNED THIS SHOCKING FOOD NEWS

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