Olympic controvery underway before opening ceremony starts

Russia falling flat in facing host duties

Olympic controvery underway before opening ceremony starts

    2014 is a year of opportunity. Those competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics have a chance to make history and bring their respective countries glory and honor. On this flipside, there is plenty of room for mistakes and corruption to bring a country down in the eyes of the world. There are plenty of Olympic fans from around the world who think that this has already happened.

    The 2014 Winter Olympics is being hosted in Sochi, Russia, a city not built for the huge influx of people pouring in from all over the world the attend the Olympics. And it has been about more than just the size and accommodations, although those are reportedly sub-par as well. No, it is more about the constant flow of problems that crop up in the media. Russian officials have watched their country come under scrutiny for a multitude of sins: more than $30 billion in funds from an already overly-inflated budget have gone missing, complaints from unpaid construction workers, controversy over gay right, and concerns over security.

    One of the biggest controversies regarding the Olympics games has been the sudden surge of gay rights activism in Russia. In 2013, Russia received international criticism over its new law which criminalizes the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. Basically, it’s illegal to suggest that same-sex relations are as natural as heterosexual relations or anything about gay rights to minors. This is catching the eye of the world because in the spike in homophobic related hate crimes in Russia. Many are worried about how the population of Russia will react to the openly gay Olympic competitors. Will it cause more hate crimes or bring peace and understanding to Russia? These are a few among many questions the world is asking this Winter Olympic season.

    Another scandal that is making headlines in the West are reports that state Russia has allegedly misused its Olympic funds to revamp Sochi’s infrastructure. This includes hotels, roads, sewer systems and more. The Russian authorities deny any misuse of funds. Some say that it is a waste to host the Olympic games in Sochi because the quality of life is so low for the citizens of Russia that the building is over the top in comparison to pre-Olympic Sochi. To top it off, new reports say that much of the money – billions – has gone missing or been spent inappropriately, with Putin reportedly giving jobs to friends rather than properly taking bids and finding contractors.

    To top it all off, the country does not seem prepared to actually play host. Crowds are down; tickets are being given away, and still stadiums have been mostly empty for many preliminary events. And with the opening ceremony yet to come, the Russian hosts have already ruined traditions. Decathletes have a tradition of doing a lap of honor (after their event Sunday) but Russian Olympic officials asked the athletes to get off the track. The tradition was broken.

    To top off the scandals and accusations against the Russian government, the Russian athletes are faced with the task of transforming the world’s view of Russia in this season’s winter games. Since Russia has not won any gold medals as a separate federation, Sochi 2014 would be the prime time for Russia’s Olympic athletes to make history. They’ll have to do a really great job to overcome the negative reputation their government is already busy trying to gloss over.