February 9, 2014

The XXII Winter Games: Hypocrisy in Sochi

By - Benjamin Lincecum

If you think the 2014 Sochi Winter Games are strictly about the events themselves, you are sadly mistaken.

Photo by: Getty Images
Everything about these Olympics has been big and political, something the event is not unfamiliar with. From the U.S. protest of the 1980 Moscow Games, to the Berlin Games in 1936 that saw Adolf Hitler try to prove his ideas about race and eugenics, to the '68 Mexico Games where two African-American athletes raised their fists in gesture to support the idea of civil rights in their country.

Perhaps the most infamous political moment in the Olympics came in the 1972 Games in Munich where eleven Israeli athletes were killed by five Palestinians, who also died, after a standoff with German authorities.

From the onset of these particular Games, there have been accusations of political intrigues, corruption and misconduct. Contracts were given out to childhood friends of the Russian president, and the cost overrun for the projects has been enormous. There has also been the storyline of recent anti-homosexual and general anti-human rights laws that have come out of the Russian government, coupled with jihadist threats to attack the Games themselves.

Teams like Greece and Germany were assigned protest status against their own intentions, and a gay athlete from the Netherlands openly flouted her opinion after her slopestyle run by showing off her rainbow themed unicorn gloves to the cameras.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and underreported stories comes from recent revelations that Russian TV audiences were not allowed to see footage of the ring mishap during the opening ceremonies, but were treated to a doctored version that was earlier recorded where all of the snow flakes successfully changed into colorless rings.

The big question we now face is, do we really care?

Per Olympic rules, the Games are not to be used as a political platform, but it's rarely, if ever, enforced by the committee. Athletes like Tommie Smith and John Carlos faced no lasting consequences, and the IOC has said nothing in regards to Cheryl Maas' antics. Russia has even used the Olympics to advance the narrative of their beliefs regarding the problems with the modern gay rights movement becoming less a movement about human equality and more about forcing people to adopt beliefs against their will.

Everything about the Olympics is political. From deciding the host nation, to deciding which sports make the cut and actually become events. The IOC itself has been plagued with allegations of political corruption, and countries are never shy about giving political reasons for protesting the Games when they felt they needed to.

Why act as if politics have no place in the Games if politics decide where they're played in the first place?

Point being, we should try to avoid the hypocrisy of acting as if while the Games are going on politics shouldn't be mentioned or considered, when they have always been a major part of the big picture regardless. The world is watching, so the Olympics provide a great opportunity for everyone, athletes included, to share what makes us all human; our beliefs and ideals.

Embrace it already.

No comments:

Post a Comment