Sochi Olympics causes concern for human rights

Corruption. Power. Greed. These are not the first words that come to mind when the Olympic Games are brought up.

With controversy littering the upcoming event, the International Olympic Committee selected the city of Sochi, Russia to host this year’s Winter Olympics. But was Sochi the right choice?

According to The Guardian, these upcoming Winter Games are the most expensive Olympics to date.

A recorded amount of $51 billion has been spent on the building and reconstruction of the venues that are holding the coveted winter events and the hotels that will be accommodating athletes and journalists from all over the world.

As the games draw near, investigation on the treatment of the citizens of Sochi, the money being spent and the living conditions of workers are starting to reveal the harsh truth that Sochi is far from a winter wonderland.

There has been a lot of additional controversy surrounding the winter games, most notably the anti-homophobic protests, but that only scratches the surface of problems that are building in Sochi.

Human Rights Watch reported that thousands of Sochi residents were evicted from their homes in order for construction to be built for the Olympics.

Many seem to agree that this treatment is outrageous.

“One word, obscene,” said Luke Gheta, a senior political science major. “It’s terrible. Russia’s government has been known to treat their citizens inhumanly. I am glad I’m in the U.S.”

How can a host country be a good example if it treats its own people with such disrespect?

Along with the wrongful eviction of Sochi residents, many journalists and reporters have been punished for revealing the truth about the excessive spending.

Slowly, information is surfacing that out of the reported $51 billion put into the construction, thousands of those dollars are missing, according to The Guardian. These reports are not well-known due to the powerful control the government has on its citizens and the media.

Silencing those who reveal the truth is just another example of how unreasonable the Russian government is treating people.

“This is not a new phenomenon. The Russian government and the criminal underworld has long intimidated and imprisoned reporters for covering sensitive topics,” said Ryan Medders, who has a master’s degree in mass communication.

“In fact, over 50 journalists have been murdered since 1992 because they covered stories that revealed business and political corruption.”

Not only are the people of Russia receiving such inexcusable manipulation, but migrant workers who traveled from  over the world are living in horrible conditions.

Human Rights Watch disclosed that the housing provided for the migrant workers are crowded and horrific. There have been many cases in which these people are to work long hours, and still have not received payment for their labor.

“It seems that people are being persecuted and bullied from the government, which is never a good thing,” said sophomore Isabel Zaragoza. “That’s how riots and revolutions begin.”

Perhaps, a revolution is what this country needs. The unjustifiable treatment of its citizens, the lies that are revealed and the hidden details are all factors that add up to the clear need for a new start.

The coverage on the Olympic Games sadly drowns out the real problems that lie just outside the sports venues and arenas in Sochi. Much like the Beijing Olympics, the world chooses to ignore the many issues that are out in the open.

Perhaps, this country was simply not ready to host one of the biggest international sports events meant to bring the world together. Or, just maybe, mistakes have to be made in order for lessons to be learned.

 

Alexa Datuin
Staff Writer
Published Feb. 5, 2014