Friday, February 07, 2014

Why I'm Not Watching the Sochi Games

I'm a sucker for the Olympics. Especially the Winter edition. Like most of the country, I was glued to the TV four years ago for the Vancouver feels like last month. But I've been watching the Games since '84, and they're something I look forward to every couple of years.

And you'd think the Sochi Games would be a magnet for me. I have long had a fascination for Russian history and culture. I am absolutely enthralled with Russian classical music, which speaks to me on some deep level that makes me wonder if I was a Volga boatman in a previous life. Already I'm regretting missing the Opening Ceremonies.

But I'm not watching this time. I'm sitting this one out.

The much-debated anti-gay stance of Vladimir Putin's Russia is only one reason. It's a big one, but it's far from the only one. I'm also sick to death of the corruption that seems to follow the IOC around like the world's largest. most noxious fart; the stray dog massacre; the bulldozed homes; even the toilet idiocy. I don't recall any of this in Vancouver or Lillehammer or Nagano or Albertville.

Fifty billion dollars. More than all the previous Winter Olympics combined. I'm normally not one to kvetch about expenditure in these things--as far as I am (or used to be) concerned, anyone who does kvetch about this kind of thing is honour-bound to boycott television and movies entirely--but come on. I'd love to see a detailed accounting of where all that money went. We never will, of course. But we know where some of it went--surveillance videos in the hotel showers. (The first time I've chuckled at that stupid meme: "In Russia, bathroom mirror watches you!") Except that's not funny.

I'd like to stress this has nothing to do with our athletes, or any other athletes. At its core, no matter how much glitz and glamour and vzyatochnichestvo  (that's bribery) has grown up around the Olympic movement, it's about citius, altius, fortius...and the athletes come through every time. I'll follow along in the papers--trying to avoid all Olympic coverage is a mug's game--and I wish every athlete well. But I feel that actually watching the Games is my own tacit approval of Vladimir Putin...and that man scares me more than most world leaders. Kim Jong-Un is certifiable but surely realizes his country would be pulverized if he tries anything too rash;  the gaggle of Middle East leaders mostly keep each other in check; but Putin is something else altogether. He is, to put it bluntly, a thug. And not just a thug, but that specially KGB-hardened thug that used to be the bad guy in countless movies, before Russian bad guys became politically incorrect. I don't like him, I don't trust him, and I won't watch his propaganda exercise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Same here man, same here. Feel exactly the same.