The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are officially under way, but what makes these games different has nothing to do with the sporting events taking place. Instead, the controversies over Russia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and the violence that plagues the region where Sochi is located have taken center stage.
As athletes from all over the world assemble to compete in one of the most prestigious events in world history, people are paying far less attention to what the games are all about.
While the controversies surrounding Sochi are indeed concerning, I have faith in the measures that the Russian government has taken to keep the hundreds of athletes and spectators safe. Not only do the surrounding controversies take attention away from the main events, but they pose a mental distraction for the competitors.
The Russian government is faced with an especially difficult task because of the major security concerns that come with hosting the games. Not only is such a high-profile event already a vulnerable target for terrorists, but the region itself raises that risk tremendously.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is so confident in the measures taken to keep the games safe that he insisted the games would be the safest in history. Many in the international community, however, do not seem as optimistic. They have even called upon other governments for assistance in the fight to combat any potential attacks.
The Northern Caucasus region where Sochi is located has been plagued by an Islamist uprising during the last two decades, which continues to this day. Since the ’90s, when the uprising began, there have been more than 2,000 bombings that have killed about 3,800 people in the region.
Have these terrorists already succeeded? In making world governments allocate so many resources to security measures, they have already weakened the institutions they seek to destroy.
This happens with terrorism in any form. Like the high-profile attacks such as those on the World Trade Centers in New York City, not only did the terrorists destroy landmarks and kill thousands, but they caused America to spend billions in new anti-terrorism measures. They gave us new fears that we never thought possible. Every terrorist attack gives people reason to believe the next one is coming. That is what they want.
There was a scare on Feb. 7 when a passenger on board a Pegasus Airline flight with 110 passengers headed to Istanbul from Ukraine claimed he had a bomb and attempted to divert the plane to Sochi.
Thankfully, the plane was grounded and the man was subdued by Turkish authorities, with no bomb found.
Google also made it clear that they were against the Russian laws by making the logo on the homepage rainbow colors and added a quote from the Olympic Charter regarding equal treatment of all participants.
These games are another example of the world we live in today, where progressive nations impose their ideology on all other nations and will not tolerate intolerance.