Everyting old is new again. And we do mean everything.
By an extremely narrow margin, the International Olympic Committee has voted to hold the 2014 Olympic games in the Russian city of Sochi. It’s a brilliant decision, for many reasons.
First of all, Sochi is famous for warm, sandy beaches and palm trees, which will come in quite handy in hosting the winter olympiad. After all, if a country is going to hold an olympics, why not hold it in the most southern locality possible! Miami Florida in 2028!
Second, the games will take place right in the back yard of the Chechen terrorists, literally walking distance from their strongholds in the mountains, becoming an irresistible target for violence and bloodshed such as the world has never before seen at an olympics. Though the Kremlin won’t be able to stop this violence (heaven only knows how many Beslans and Dubrovkas will occur), it will of course conveniently justify yet another massive round of crackdowns on Russia’s already oppressed population.
Meanwhile, the IOC is helping Russia to cover up it’s gross pattern of human rights abuses in the region, condemned by every human rights organization under the sun including, on many occasions, in official rulings of the European Court for Human Rights (the most recent example of which appears in another of today’s posts, below).
At the same time, Russia will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Sochi, already a playground for Russia’s rich and famous that doesn’t need investment, whilst the rest of the country continues to languish in extreme poverty . . .
. . . and Russia’s crude, barbaric xenophobia will have a chance to consume dozens of dark-skinned athletes and fans from around the world if they are foolish enough to step outside their heavily guarded hotel rooms.
All that is to say nothing, of course, about the possiblity that Russia simply won’t be able to meet its basic obligations to build a suitable facility due to corruption and general incompetence, features of Russian life with which every Russian visitor is well acquainted, leaving Russia humiliated as having hosted (or even failed to host) the worst olympics in history. What if the price of oil drops? What if Vladimir Putin has a heart attack? The number of ways this could go horribly wrong for Russia are uncountable.
And it’s to say nothing of the possibility of a shooting war breaking out between Russia and any one of a number of its neighbors, as the piece below from the Wall Street Journal on the Kodori attack on Georgia makes clear.
Neither Austria nor Korea, Russia’s two rivals for the 2014 games, have been convicted of human rights violations in the ECHR, neither is fighting an ongoing war of imperialism with a breakway province, and both are far more economically advanced and progressive than Russia. Just as Russia doesn’t belong by any objective measure on the G-8 but sits there anyway, it simply isn’t qualified to host an olympics. The fact that Russia maintains these possibilities despite obvious reality is conclusive proof of the need for this blog.
As many will already know, this isn’t the first time something totally insane like this has happened. For instance, the USSR hosted the 1980 summer olympics (America boycotted them) and Nazi Germany hosted the games in 1936. In less than ten years thereafter, Nazi Germany ceased to exist. Will we be as lucky where Putin’s KGB Russia is concerned?
When Russian athletes win medals at Sochi (if they find any snow and ice), the music of the national anthem of the USSR will play to honor them. Perhaps by then Russia will even have revived the Soviet flag to fly above them. So we’ll get to see Russia in its full neo-Soviet glory, just the way we saw Nazi Germany.
All this presents us with a great opportunity. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that the Putin administration actually even wanted the games to occur on Russian soil, although it’s possible that it is so drunk on power that it actually does. How much better would it have been if the games were denied, so the Kremlin could have claimed proof of Western hatred of Russia. That’s going to be a much harder argument to make now, when for instance Russia tries to block defensive missiles in Europe. Then on top of that, in 2014 the world’s journalists will swarm over Russia, dredging up every bit of horror from the Katyn massacre to the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. Every human rights and opposition political group under the sun will have an instant international platform to criticize Russia, and institutions like La Russophobe will have a field day. Right now, most of the time, the world just gives a giant collective Y-A-W-N when it hears about Russia, but in 2014 at least for a few weeks the world will be forced to train its cameras on Russia and see it for what it is. It won’t like the picture, not one little bit. Quite possibly, dictator Putin will have returned to power in 2012 with a new seven-year term, expecting to rule the country until at least 2026.
Less than 10 years after the USSR hosted the summer games, it ceased to exist. Perhaps that is a wonderful harbinger for Putin’s Russia as well. So bring on the Sochi games of 2014! The opportunity to galvanize a boycott movement alone will be worth its wait in gold. La Russophobe congratulates the IOC on its brilliant decision!