Putin’s Sochi Charade
With the Russian economy in freefall, it’s looking more and more every day like Russia’s effort to host the 2014 Olympics will bankrupt the nation, leading either to total Russian humiliation before the world or to draconian, Soviet-like privation and suffering for the sake of a Potemkin sham.
After inspecting Russia’s efforts thus far to prepare for the games, IOC Chairman Jean-Claude Killy stated ominously: “Time is not a luxury that we have to play with on this project. The Sochi team must therefore ensure that it makes its decisions in a timely manner, so as to maintain its ambitious schedule.” A rough translation from the pained diplomatic language upon which Killy must rely is: “HOLY #*#&@^! What the #*#&@^! do you people think you are doing here?”
Even Vladimir Putin was forced to admit the massive problems: “We have said more than once that no matter what the difficulties, the necessary resources would be issued in full and on time — and this is what is happening.”
No matter what the difficulties, Mr. Putin? You mean even if Russian children have to starve, the games will go on? Did you consult with their parents before making that commitment, sir? Does it bother you at all that your country doesn’t even have snow in sufficient quantities to train your own athletes, much less to host others (Sochi, after all, is a summer beach resort).
Russia has bitten off far more than it can chew in Sochi, bidding for the games when its economy was buoyed by oil prices that were three times higher than they are today. The disaster is apparent in Russia’s failure to have begun crucial construction projects: Everyone knows that any construction project always offers unexpected delays, and Russia can’t afford any according to Killy. What’s more, in Russia — where corruption and incompetence are rampant — such delays will be more pronounced and frequent than they would be anywhere else in the world.
And what about security? The world won’t know the extent of Russia’s willingness and ability to protect the games from terror attacks until the very last minute before they begin, and will have to rely on Russian integrity for much of what it “knows.” As we’ve said many times before, that’s a fool’s errand that places the lives of the Olympic athletes in terrible peril.
For Russia’s own good and for the safety of the athletes, the games should be relocated now, before the point of no return has been passed and the world, and the Russians, are left to pick up the pieces.