Sochi Winter Olympics bring a pile of controversy

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Wrapped in a hefty string of controversies, “Putin’s Olympics” are shaping up to be one of the most contended seasons the games have ever seen. Record breaking government spending, newly passed discriminatory laws and terrorist threats cast  dark shadows over what was supposed to be one of the prouder events to take place in Russia in recent years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration is sparing no expense in what is the most expensive Olympic Games in the history of the athletic tradition.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Russia is spending $51 billion on the Sochi Games, topping the $40 billion China spent on the 2008 Summer Olympics, which had more than three times the number of events.

“I’m sure Putin would love to showcase Russia, but being as corrupt as he is, there is clearly some improper use of funds,” said Shaan Saroa, University of Southern California business student.

When Russia first bid its candidacy for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it estimated a budget of $12 billion. To the committee’s astonishment, the price tag has quadrupled.

“Whenever you have a project go four times over budget in such a short amount of time, you know that there is something fishy. The cost of raw materials and labor do not increase that quickly, especially in a state like Russia,” Saroa said.

Along with the unexpected blowout of the budget, a large amount of political backlash abruptly unfolded after the Russian government proposed a new law.

In the summer of 2013, Putin’s government passed a law which condemned gay people from giving children any information about homosexuality. A “return to traditional Russian values” is what Putin called it over what he sees as the permissive western culture.

“Politics have no place in sports. Athletes, for the most part, set an excellent example for our youth and should not be discriminated against simply because of their sexuality,” said sophomore Ben Dominguez, a personal trainer and aspiring Special Olympics coach.

Olympian athletes and celebrities alike have called on Putin and the Russian government to repeal the anti-gay law, according to CNN.

Lindsey Vonn and Evan Lysacek, athletes who both suffered injuries that cost them a spot in Sochi, have come out against the law. French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron are some of the few politicians who have turned down their invitations in contempt. Stephen Fry, Lady Gaga, Chris Pine and Elton John are among many celebrities to stage boycotts.

The prejudicial law and the budget are not the only issues the Sochi Games are facing at the moment.

An unsettling number of terrorist threats have struck fear into the hearts of Sochi residents, tourists and Olympians.

Russian security forces are still on the lookout for potential suicide bombers, with only a few days before the opening ceremonies.

“Black Widows” is the label given to the female suicide bombers from Chechnya who are threatening the Sochi Games.

This name originates from the fact that many of these women are widows of men killed by the Russian forces in Chechnya.

According to NBC News, these female terrorists have already infiltrated Sochi’s “ring of fire,” which is composed of a 1,500-square-mile security zone that includes more than 40,000 police officers, special forces, ultra-sensitive sonar, monitoring drones and patrol boats.

“Being someone who has taken part in organizing large-scaled community events, security is a top priority,” said Amalia Marreh, the assistant engineer for the City of Santa Clarita. “The Olympics is a great time for the world to come together and the fact that it can’t be enjoyed without the fears of terrorist strikes is disheartening and tragic.”

The opening ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games will begin on Feb. 7.

 

Sahal Farah
Staff Writer
Published Feb. 5, 2014