Eyes on Sochi

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Human rights the main issue at Russian Olympics

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind an in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” – Olympic Charter

The 2014 Winter Olympics officially opened on Friday. Now the whole world is watching Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

As the athletes representing their countries walked through the pavilion waving their flags and being celebrated, they soaked up the atmosphere as best they could.

The hard work for them begins now. The pressure to produce and win medals is what every athlete representing their country wants to do.

However, as much as these athletes work hard their whole lives and especially hard every four years to get to this point, there are bigger issues in Russia that need to be discussed.

Social media has already turned Sochi into an international joke. The Twitter account @SochiProblems (269K) has more followers than the official Olympic @Sochi2014 account (168K)

From the journalists that I follow on Twitter, the jokes are aplenty with unfinished rooms, toxic water in their hotels, stray dogs everywhere and the bargaining of door handles for light bulbs Some of the other  the rumoured problems, include hacking of phones and computers and filming in bedrooms.

It is astounding that these problems are occurring seven years after winning the bid, especially since Putin personally supported the bid. It is also embarrassing, but not shocking because of the corruption in Russia. These Olympics are reportedly over $51 billion.

However, those problems are just the tip of the iceberg of holding the Winter Games in Sochi.

Not only is security an issue with terrorist attacks occurring prior to the athletes arriving in the country, but on Friday as the opening ceremony was occurring, CBC reported that a jet landed in Turkey after an attempted hijacking to Sochi.  

That is no laughing matter.

Neither are the anti-gay laws that Russia passed before the Olympics.

Putin’s Russia is corrupt. It has been for the 14 years he has been in power.

On Friday, The New Daily News reported that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak gave the impressions that gays are pedophiles by stating: “Please don’t touch the kids, that’s the only thing.”

In that same article, they say that Putin had earlier said that gays should “leave the children alone.”

Embarrassing. Wrong. Shameful. Atrocious.

The International Olympic Committee should step in to make sure that those athletes that are gay or those athletes that support gay, bisexual, or transsexual people are safe from prosecution.

This shouldn’t be happening in Russia.

Putin runs a propaganda machine and I hope the same journalists that are tweeting out jokes of not having a shower curtain will focus that same energy on writing the important stories.

Yes, it is important to talk and write about the amazing feats that Canada’s athletes and others accomplish at these Games. But, it is also important that those getting persecuted for standing up for a human right should be given the spotlight.

I am not as excited about these Games as I was for the last Winter Olympics. That could be because they were in Vancouver in 2010 and the Canadian Olympic Committee did a fantastic job of hyping the events or maybe it is the time change and that the majority of the live events will be held when I am sleeping.

I do want Canada to top the 26 medals they won in Vancouver. I think they can do that as well.

 

More importantly, I want everyone single athlete and human being to be safe. I hope the world that watches these Olympics also doesn’t allow the propaganda machine to silence those who should be heard.

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman

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