The Looming Sochi Disaster
Russia has begun the Winter Olympiad with truly epic and humiliating failure.
First, as we previously reported, it was sternly reprimanded by the IOC for being the worst cheater at the games. Then it was totally excluded from the medals platform at its most prized event, pairs figure skating, for the first time in the history of the event. By Monday night, when Russians watched Chinese skaters claim both gold and silver in pairs, Russia had taken only one medal, a lowly bronze, while the US had eight, Germany five, France & Canada had four apiece and eight other countries held more than one medal, placing Russia well outside the top ten on the medal count platform in the early going. Then for the capper, the US women’s hockey team brutally crushed the Russian side, blasting them off the ice in a 13-0 spanking. Ouch.
Yet, four years from now, Russia not only plans to compete in but to host the Winter Olympics. When one reflects on the serious difficulties already experienced by Canada while playing host this year, one cannot help but think Russia is engaged in a fool’s errand.
At the opening ceremonies, one of the four cauldrons of fire that were supposed to rise dramatically from below the stage to be lit by a famous athlete experienced a mechanical failure.
Then a Georgian luge athlete was killed during a practice run, a crucial safety wall having been left unbuilt on a track that was horrifically dangerous, producing unheardof speeds.
Next, snow conditions deteriorated so much that a key skiing venue had to be closed to spectators because of the danger, and the world’s most famous halfpipe snowboarders began ridiculing the condition of their apparatus.
And finally, there was a total failure of ice maintenance at the speed-skating oval, resulting in a delay of hours as coaches complained vehemently about danger to their athletes from improperly prepared rink surfaces.
Oh, and that was all on the opening weekend alone.
Now consider just a few key differences between Canada and Russia:
- Canada has a per capita nominal GDP of $39,217 which ranks it #18 on the planet according to the IMF. Russia’s figure stands at a lowly $8,874 – less than a quarter of Canada’s figure — and ranks Russia #54.
- Canada is #8 on the Transparency International list of honest nations, only seven world countries are less corrupt than Canada. Russia by contrast ranks #146 — only a handful of nations are more corrupt than Russia.
- Canada, you may already know, does not have a region like the Caucasus seething and roiling with daily terrorist violence aimed at government officials and police officers motivated by a furious desire to live separately from an oppressive, racist, dictatorial autocracy. It has Montreal.
So we ask you: If Canada, civilized and wealthy, had so much trouble staging the 2010 games, then what will become of the next winter Olympics in 2014, games that are to be held in Russia?
This is to say nothing, of course, about the naked immorality of allowing Russia to host the games after invading Georgia, menacing Ukraine with energy blackmail and repeatedly provoking the USA with nuclear bombers. It is to say nothing of ignoring Russia’s shameless crackdown on civil society, it’s obliteration of opposition parties, free media and local government.
Taking all these factors together, there is no other word for vesting Russia with the 2014 Winter Olympiad than: Insane.