Sochi 2014: If Malice Be the Food of Sport, Play On


Expecting the…

Nothing brings out the misanthropic journalists like an Olympics. However, an Olympics hosted by Russia elevates the conventional doomster journalist to channel not just Anaximander, and Ebenezer Scrooge, but wholly tuck into a chunk of Schadenfreude. The 2014 Winter Olympics are here in less than a month and one has been hard pressed to find a newspaper, blog, or journal that doesn’t allude to the unpropitious conditions of what will be the first Olympics hosted by the Russian Federation. Common phrases summarized –  No One Expects Russia to…(Succeed)

For many it is hard pressed to forget the XXII Olympiad hosted by the Soviet Union in 1980, the Summer Olympics celebrated in Moscow that instigated a 4 year diplomatic tennis match between the West and those behind the “Iron Curtain”. The 1980 Olympiad boycott was the equivalent of the United States’ brandishing their foreign policy stick at the Soviet Union for the latter’s war in Afghanistan. And in response the Eastern Bloc, led by the Soviet Union, boycotted 1984 Olympiad located in Los Angels, later to be vindicated by the United States as Soviet “revenge” for the West’s 1980 boycott.

Are You Not Entertained?

We are the Mob.  20 years after the 1980 and 1984 Olympiads, the Malice Games are back, for the same reason that Rome profited from the Colosseum. We the Mob love a good fight and a good story regardless of the truth, The juicer the story, the more we satisfy the raptorial inside us. Controversy ensures that periodicals fly off the shelves, and gossip keeps all those editors flush. And true to form, Russia is the exemplary recipient for the ultimate journalistic tittle-tattle-bollucking. Corruption, Human Rights, terrorism, ecological disaster, cronyism, waste, global warming catastrophe, all salacious topics splayed across the headlines, yanking back similar sentiment exhibited during the Cold War. Stories that appear in respectable periodicals that are disaster porn, is a testament to how little the West has progressed when it considers the 17.1kms (6.6 million sq miles) that takes up 1/8 of the globes surface. Judging from memory I don’t believe there was a 400 page ” Atlas Behind the Real Beijing, Vancouver or London.

Pre-Olympic rancor has become a sport in itself between newspapers and journals with the goal being who can publish the most boorish negative propaganda about an event whose goal is to bring the world together for 2 weeks of healthy competition and celebration. The latter truly brings forth a conundrum: where does the competition end and sportsmanship begin? Giving credit, where credit is due has been regrettably sparse occurrence, what should be praised, is clouded with puerile spite. Achievements such as building the “greenest” Olympics to date, (have we forgotten the life-threatening pollution levels in China?), sending the first Olympic Torch into space (I am sure we can forgive if the flame goes out from time to time) not to mention it’s journey is the longest in Olympic history carried by the largest number of people (and probably the most eclectic choices of transportation). Additionally, the largest gathering of youth volunteers Russia has ever seen to work at the games coupled with its sustainable facilities  are testaments of the direction that the country hopes to move toward.

Is Russia Ready to bask in the Olympic spot light?

Bear Tough, or Tough to Bear?

Taking chances by choosing Sochi,  to host the XX Winter Olympics can be easily seen as both politically ambitious and foolish, a decision shared by the Olympic Committee and Russia. Never before have the Olympic Games been held in a region that contrasts more strongly with the Olympic spirit than Sochi. Just twenty kilometres away is the conflict zone Abkhazia. To the east the Caucasus Mountains stretch into obscure and impoverished republics such as North Ossetia and Chechnya.” For the Pollyanna in us, it can be presumed that by choosing Sochi the Winter Olympics might draw $ £ RUB, and perchance initiate opportunities to create constructive resolutions to implement within the conflict ridden areas.

Expectations can not only be met but transcended; Great Britain couldn’t wait for the Olympics to be over before it had begun, but during those last few seconds remaining of the closing ceremony, we all hoped it could go on just a little longer. To be British in 2012 was the greatest feeling, we were no longer a small island but rather, a great nation that had come together and hosted the greatest Olympics in living memory. And it is time that Russia and its citizens come to know that same feeling of success and pride.

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