The modern Olympics are a time for the countries of the world to come together for some friendly competition and leave their politics at the door. Yet politics inevitably play a role.
Nations play out their tensions on the fields, slopes and rinks of the Olympics every year, as if athletic success would somehow equate to political success. This isn’t new.
What’s new this year, though, is the extent the U.S. is taking action against the winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia. Many U.S. dignitaries, including President Obama, are not attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics, USA Today reported in December – though that was supposedly due to a schedule conflict. Some people, however, were not convinced, and interpreted the move as a boycott to show disapproval of Russia’s anti-gay policies.
Since then, various people have jumped on the anti-Sochi bandwagon. Journalists are live-tweeting their experiences at unhygienic hotels. The hashtag #SochiProblems pops up on a Twitter search before #Sochi2014. And the Washington Post published a Buzzfeed-esque article entitled “15 signs that Russia is not very ready for the Olympics.”
Public opinion in the U.S. isn’t very high regarding the decision to host the Olympics in Russia, either. The Pew Research Center reported 44% of Americans consider it a bad decision to hold the winter games in Russia, with 62% citing security concerns as their primary reasoning.
While concerns about Russia’s security measures during the Olympics are valid, the decision by some to boycott the Olympics because of Russia’s anti-gay policies is not. The Olympics should be a time to put politics aside for a few weeks and enjoy some friendly competition, not to bash on countries whose policies we disagree with.