Russia Olympic Boycott

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With two bombs come two words; Olympic boycott. Russia doesn’t want it. No one wants it, especially the athletes who have trained for the event for years, but the instability of the surrounding area cannot be ignored.

Two bombs detonating in the backyard of Sochi, Olympic host city, in a 24 hour period, and vows by Russian President Vladamir Putin to “annihilate terrorists” in his New Years Eve address have provoked concerns over athlete safety.

With 38 days remaining until the opening ceremony Putin has gone on the offensive. In “Operation Anti-terror Whirlwind” 5,000 troops and police have been sent to the site of the carnage, Volgograd, to find those linked with the bombings.

This is just the latest security measure to envelop the area. Sochi, Russia, has been the focus of extensive security measures. Troops, police, a new identification process which allows intensive screening, closed circuit video surveillance, the list goes on. The Russians are doing everything in their power to ensure a smooth Olympics but the violence continues.

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The Olympics are supposed to be an event where athletes from around the world can go and compete in safety and with the spirit of fair competition in the air. The five colored rings on the flag represent the five continents and are interlocked as a symbol of unity. The games move from one city to the next every four years. Which city becomes a host city is determined by the Olympic Committee.

During the 119th International Olympic Committee session which was held in Guatemala on July 4, 2007, the 2014 games were awarded to the city of Sochi, Russia. To be awarded the Games is a huge event. Potential host cities lobby the committee extensively as to host the Games is to garner world attention, not only for the host city, but the host nation itself. In the world of geopolitics it is the icing on the cake. For that reason there is tremendous pressure on the committee to make a fair and informed choice. It was a great day for Sochi and any thought of an Olympic Boycott was nonexistent.

During the announcement in Guatemala the Russians were still officially involved in a “counter terrorism operation” in Chechya, located in the mountains south east of Sochi. That operation didn’t officially end until 2009. That was the year Chechen President Medvedev proclaimed life had “normalised to a large degree” in the Republic.

The violence continues.

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Are the Games in question? It is a sporting event, unfortunately the athletes are being drawn into a political circumstance where they should never have to compete. The instability surrounding Sochi is not the athletes fault, yet they are the ones with the most to lose. Future decisions regarding host cities should be focused primarily on venues that promote athlete safety and freedom of competition from politics and threat of violence. Hopefully there will be no Olympic boycott, but what is happening in Russia today presents the strongest evidence that the Olympic Committee is not giving the Athletes well-being the priority it should be.

By Scott Wilson

Sources:

BBC News
CBC News
Reuters

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