Stickin’ with Sochi

Despite the controversies, this could be the best Olympics yet

Story by Becky Olson, Copy Editor

For most sports fans like myself, the week after the Super Bowl is normally the worst week of the year. Football is on a seven-month hiatus, baseball hasn’t quite started spring training yet, NASCAR’s premiere of the Daytona 500 is still three weeks off and at this point, the NBA season is too tortuously long to keep watching every night.

However, every four years we get the special treat of the Winter Olympics. While most of us can’t even ski down a bunny slope, some of these athletes sail down hills like it’s no big deal. It’s entrancing to see the world come together for 18 days.

Unfortunately, this year’s Olympics have been caught in the mix of controversies. In June 2013, Russia unanimously passed an anti-gay law, banning homosexual relationships. This sparked an outcry from many countries. Petitions were created to fight the law, the German president said he wouldn’t attend the Games in Sochi and in place of President Obama and Vice President Biden, the U.S. delegates for the opening ceremonies include LGBT supporter Billie Jean King.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, on Jan. 19, a terrorist video was published threatening to attack the Games and the spectators that went. While Russia has already faced a series of bombings by unknown sources, this threat has pumped up security. According to BBC news, approximately 40,000 Russian police and armed forces are set to surround the Olympics inside and out.

Even with Russia’s reassurance of top-priority safety at the Games, many are questioning the International Olympic Committee’s decision for choosing Russia to host this year. With the opening ceremonies beginning on Friday, we really shouldn’t judge too quickly. This Olympics is bringing in many new things. Twelve new events are being introduced at Sochi, with three allowing males and females to compete together and five more added just for female competittors. According to The Huffington Post, Russia spent more than $50 billion on the Games alone for infrastructure and security.

I give Russia the benefit of the doubt. By hosting the biggest sporting event in the world, of course there is going to be a couple of issues that pop up. This is the first time Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics. The last time Russia hosted the Olympics was in the summer of 1980. Since then a lot of things have changed (except probably their winter seasons) so it will be interesting to see how Russia has adapted. On the plus side, there won’t be a challenge of cancelling events due to warm weather.

The Olympics is always a special time for the world. It’s a time where everyone comes together to support not just their own country but world peace. It will be nice to have a moment where we can show pride in what the United States is all about.

With all of the changes coming to this year’s Olympics, I have no doubt that it will be more exciting and more competitive than ever.