Quick Take: Was Sochi a mistake?
The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have had a fair amount of controversy. From Russia’s notorious anti-gay propaganda law to poorly built hotels for journalists, the games and their location have been widely criticized. Was Sochi a good choice for this year’s Olympics, or not? Does the location of the games even matter, or should the focus be solely on the achievements of athletes?
Political disagreements should be irrelevant to Olympics
By Rathna Muralidharan
The Olympics provide a rare opportunity for nations from around the world to gather and interact. During the few weeks of competition athletes compete for the honor of being called Olympians and bringing medals home. Athletes also share their cultures and skills with each other.
As is true any time multiple nations come together, the competition often extends past the arena. We all compare our values and ideals to the other countries involved, turning our similarities into strong bonds and our differences into insurmountable disconnects. Russia’s anti-gay legislation has been met with opposition from multiple countries, forcing the International Olympic Committee to question their decision to host the games in Sochi. I believe the Committee made the right decision despite Russia’s controversial legislation, as they have done in the past with similar controversies.
These are not the first Olympic games held during a politically tense time. The 1936 summer Olympic Games were held in Berlin despite the wariness many nations felt toward the quick rise in power by Hitler and the Nazi Party. Both Moscow and Los Angeles were the sites of the Summer Olympics during the Cold War in 1980 and 1984. Despite obvious tensions around the world, the games were held uninhibited by the strained relationships between some of the participating nations.
Time and time again, the Olympic Committee has made clear that the games exist independently of political tensions. Unless these issues put athletes in potential danger, there is no need to choose a venue based on any given state’s legislative issues. If sites for the games were chosen based country’s political standing, they would not exist.
Rathna Muralidharan is a Freshman in the School of International Service.
American politicians should not address Russian homophobic legislation
by Zachary Andrews
The 2014 Winter Olympics are being held in the Russian city of Sochi. There has been a mixture of controversy surrounding these games due to corruption in the government, which has caused the money for the Olympic games to be misallocated. This has happened plenty of times throughout Olympic history, but it has gotten more attention with Russia. This is because people are infuriated over new laws opposing homosexuality.
Homosexuality was illegal in Russia before 1991, and Boris Yeltsen decriminalized homosexual relationships in 1993. Russia passed a federal law in June outlawing the “promotion” of homosexuality to anyone under the age of 18. The fact that minors could come in contact with this “promotion” makes any form of homosexual demonstration illegal, including a Lady Gaga performance. It is therefore illegal to speak in defense of gay rights and distribute material related to gay rights, or to state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships, according to The Guardian.
It is a bad idea for politicians to get involved in third-rail issues issues like gay marriage because it will upset constituents one way or the other. The only time American politicians should address the issue in another country is if the opinion on the subject is unanimous among the constituents in their district. If politicians feel that it is wrong for Russia to host the Olympics due to their handling of the funds, that is OK in my book. But when politicians act as if Russia’s attitude on homosexuality is a factor, they are asking to upset their constituents.
The point of the Olympic Games is to bring the world together not only through sports, but through sharing our cultures and traditions. The Olympics have remained independent of political tensions for a long time, and that status quo must continue.
Zachary Andrews is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs