#BoycottSochi, #SochiProblems, and other Sochi thoughts


I’ll be honest when I start this off.

I am not a sports fan.

I’m ok with playing some of them — I’ll play volleyball, quite happily.  I love swimming.  I’ve dabbled in snowboarding.  I like to think I’m a runner, even though I haven’t run in months, haha…. I love cardio kick boxing…

But I participate in every single one of those.

I don’t watch sports…… except for every four years in February.  Then… and only then… the PVR needs to be regularly emptied so I can record some more, and I make sure I’ve watched all of the sports that I want to see.  It’s the only time I care about results, scores, whatever…. it’s the Winter Olympics.

This year, they’re being held in Sochi, Russia.  Personally, my patriotic support of the games has never been higher than on the last ones, Vancouver 2010.  That might be my Canadian Passport talking, though.  Plus… there were Inuksuks everywhere, and if I had to pick a symbol of Canada that I love most, it wouldn’t be the maple leaf; It’d be the Inuksuk.

But I digress.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the location of these games.  There are many people out there… I even know some of them… who believe that we shouldn’t be there — that the depth of the inappropriateness, criminal activity, prejudice, and discrimination that happen in Russia in general is too great, and that we as a global community can’t possibly support Russia by showing up for the Olympics.

To be honest, I don’t know that much about what’s been going on.  And that is what’s going to fuel my argument in this debate.

Prior to January 2014, I knew virtually nothing of the conflicts going on in Russia in regard to human rights, gay rights, war crimes… just to name a few.  I’ve had to do some reading.  I’ve been sitting on this post for about a week and a half… and then Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop Prompts came out for this week and gave me the platform to write the back half of the post… and so I sat on it some more.

As food for thought, here are some of the things I read.  Now, I realize that some of the sources here aren’t amazing.  I realize that my search term – “boycott Sochi” – was a very leading search term, and that it’s probably led to some biased results… but… for me, that’s inconsequential.  If that matters to you, you can stop reading right here.  I’m being honest with you so that in the comments, I don’t get blasted for using slightly slanted sources…. plus, as a fair warning, I probably won’t approve any comments that are rude, anyway.  I never do.

Now — here’s my stance.

First of all, the only thing I’d heard about Sochi at all was the anti-gay policies and the eradication of stray dogs.  I’m not minimizing these things at all; They’re awful.  But there are other issues at hand here.  There are all kinds of human rights issues that are massive, all surrounding Russian government.  “Human Rights Watch have documented exploitation of migrant workers in violation of Russian law; evictions of residents without fair compensation and in some cases, with no compensation at all. Many resettled residents lost a portion of their livelihoods; Threats, harassment, and lawsuits of activists and journalists critical of the Games, as well as Russia’s discriminatory anti-LGBT propaganda law.” [Source]

And I think that’s my point…. before the Olympics started, that’s all I’d heard about.  While they aren’t good things, by any stretch of the word, and they aren’t things I want to draw attention away from, there are issues that go so deep in Russia…. that I would never have known about.  Because I wouldn’t have looked.

So yes, I know many people wanted Sochi boycotted.  They wanted The Olympics not to be held on a world stage that’s so fraught with issues deserving of international attention……. but if The Olympics weren’t being held in Sochi, would all of these issues be garnering such international attention?  Or would they have gone on, largely unnoticed, out of the public eye?

I get it.  We don’t want to be supportive of crimes that are being committed what appears to be completely intentionally.  But my argument is, if we boycott and keep international attention out of such places, how can any change be effected?  How will we know?  I wouldn’t have known.  Maybe that’s my own fault, but the point stands.  I would have been completely clueless that most of that was going on in Russia.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now that I’ve expressed that, Mama Kat’s prompt that I chose for this week is to choose one Olympic sport we’d like to compete in and explain why.

I can’t choose.  I can’t.  I need two choices!!

I want Slope Style Snowboarding.  And I want Ice Dance.  I want them both.

Why?

Because both of them are beautifully artistic and require incredible athletic ability (neither of which I’m very good at — my art comes out in words, and I’m a super klutz.)

Like I said above, I have dabbled in snowboarding.  I know PRECISELY how difficult it is.  I learned in the Alps in France, and I couldn’t even handle the Bunny Hills.  Wrecked my knee… basically proved for a whole week why I should never strap my feet on top of a waxy board and slide around on slippy snow.  Period.

I have a similar experience on ice.  I think that ice dance is phenomenally, outstandingly…. pulchritudinous (Characterized by or having great physical beauty and appeal ~ because I needed a word that carried more punch than ‘beautiful,’ ‘stunning,’ ‘gorgeous’ etc.)  My heart nearly broke when Tessa and Scott were beaten by Meryl and Charlie and ‘only’ took silver.  I love Tessa and Scott.  I think they should get married and have figure skating prodigies, and I’m super sad at the thought that this is their last Olympics.  I want to a) be in that incredible shape physically, and b) be able to move around on skates while letting go of the boards.  Both of those things would be amazing.

Speaking of figure skating… have you seen this?  I’ve thought pretty much all of these things (27 Things You’re Really Thinking About During Figure Skating)

Those are my sports.  Or, if I was athletic at all… those would be my sports.  But those are my choices 🙂

So there you have it.  Not only would I NOT boycott Sochi, but in an ideal world, I’d be the only athlete to compete in two completely different disciplines.  Everyone was super surprised when Torah Bright of Australia decided to compete in Slope Style, Snowboard Cross, and half pipe…. well I’d compete in Slope Style, then blow the competition off of the frozen water in ice dance.

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5 thoughts on “#BoycottSochi, #SochiProblems, and other Sochi thoughts

  1. I haven’t heard many positive things at ALL about Sochi or Russia since the Olympics began there. I almost feel a little bit sorry for those locals because there is no way Sochi is going to become any kind of tourist attraction, there has been way too much bad press. What a mess! That being said, I’m sure you’d make a wonderful ice dancer!

  2. I think I disagree with you a bit – but then again, maybe that’s because I’m coming at this with an entirely different experience. I think we would still be hearing all about these dreadful events regardless of whether the Olympics took place in Sochi or not. Especially with respect to LGBT rights in Russia – I don’t think whether the Olympics were in Russia or not would have made a difference. It’s far too newsworthy on its own as a particularly relevant and touchy topic on its own.

    Also, wasn’t the eradication for stray dogs done because of the Olympics?

    Lastly, there’s another big issue that you didn’t touch on that many people were talking about at first – and that’s Chechnya. There were many who feared some sort of terrorist/dangerous activities, particularly in an area so close to Chechnya. So safety concerns was another issue.

    You might find this article interesting – particularly with its point about how political the Olympics are in general.

    http://www.law.utoronto.ca/news/prof-brenda-cossman-how-be-gay-rights-ally-during-sochi-games

    • I don’t disagree that we’d still hear about them, but I still think that fewer people would have heard about them if not for the Olympics. It doesn’t excuse any of it, including the eradication of the stray dogs, which was in fact just for the Olympics. I agree that the LGBT issues are far too big an issue on their own — we’d still have heard about them.

      That doesn’t change the fact though that those two things were the ONLY ones I’d heard about before Olympics season ramped up. In fact, I still don’t really know much about Chechnya. I know there was fear of terrorist attacks on athletes and spectators but I don’t know why.

      Maybe I don’t read/watch the news enough, but I do get a fair bit of both in, and so if I didn’t know, I’d argue that there’s a large chunk of population that also didn’t know. I didn’t know because I didn’t go looking for the information. If I had ahead of time, perhaps I’d be singing a different tune, but I maintain that with the possible exception of the mass killing of dogs (which I’m not trying to minimalize at all), all of these things happened despite the Olympic attention, and I’d bet that more people know about any of the issues now than they would have had the world backed out of the Olympics in a significant amount of time prior and refused to participate.

      I don’t know what the answer is, maybe it would have been better to boycott and refuse on all levels to support Sochi, I guess we’ll never know… but I just know personally, I knew very little about anything going on in Russia until anyone said they weren’t going to watch them on principle because of what’s been going on…. and then I started reading.

      • I think my main point is that it seems like a confusion of cause and correlation.

        I mean – if people had backed out of the Olympics – people would want to know WHY and they still would have read up on the issues. If anything, perhaps people would be MORE interested in those issues? So I’m not sure it’s true that more people know about these issues now than they would have if there had been a large boycott.

        I don’t know where I stand on an actual boycott either, and in the end it didn’t happen anyways.

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