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Russia on the world stage for more than Olympics

Posted on February 25, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Jamie Rieger

The 2014 Winter Olympics have come and gone and I was once again glued to the TV watching as many of the events as I could. From snowboarding, skiing, speed skating, and ice dancing to team events like hockey and curling, I was trying to watch as much as I had time for.

I love the Olympic Games. One can watch a sport that you would normally not get to watch, partly because there is usually very little coverage unless it is a major tournament.

The time difference between here and Sochi meant either staying up late to watch, with new coverage starting about 10 p.m. or watching highlights. Sure I lost a bit of sleep over the past couple weeks, but that’s all right.

What I really wish is that the Olympics would be more about the athletes and a whole lot less about politics. There is a lot of money at stake and the host country put on the global stage, so it is somewhat understandable that politicking is going to have some kind of influence.

Never mind the ice dancing judges who just can’t seem to get their job right and rumoured trade-offs between countries that takes place at every Olympic Games, or so it seems.

In the weeks leading up to the Games, terrorist threats kept spectators from traveling to Russia to be a part of the event. And, judging by the many empty seats at least in the first days of the Games, the terrorist kind of won just by putting fear into people, keeping them from going, and ultimately, not spending money on tickets, souvenirs, food, or accommodations. To be honest, I am not sure I would have gone either if I had been presented with the opportunity.

Russia also faced a lot of heat over other issues leading up to the main event; accommodations not even close to being finished by the time the athletes arrived, the country’s stance on equal rights, and how they were ‘euthanizing’ (and I am being polite using that term in this instance) dogs and cats were among the headlines that were grabbing global attention as much as the actual Olympics were.

And, as TV viewers watched their team capture a medal win or go down in defeat, flip the channel to the news and you could watch Kiev in flames as protesters battled with the oppressive law enforcement in the Ukraine. In fact, about the same time the Russian men’s hockey team was playing its way out of medal contention, people on both sides were dying in the Crackdown in Kiev.

With the opposition wanting western-style democracy and the rest wanting to be nestled in the arms of communism, there will be no quick solution, but Russian president, Vladimir Putin’s true colours were showing long before the Olympic flame was extinguished.

So, while the Olympics were fun to watch and support the athletes, there was a lot more going on that the world need to pay attention to. I doubt many residents in Kiev were keeping track of medal counts or watching the closing ceremony.

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