Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Quandary of Olympic Proportions

I really wish the Olympic committee would stop making me choose between supporting athletes and my morals.

In 2008, when Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics, I boycotted. Didn't watch a single event. Didn't even watch news coverage of a single event. Something about the Olympics came on, I changed the channel.

But that's not really fair, is it? Athletes train for years to get to these games. They start well before the decision on the hosting city/country is even made. They work harder and sacrifice more than most of us could even dream, all so they can achieve their dream. Is it fair to punish them for the political decision of a bunch of old white dudes?

(Note: I wrote the above sentence, then decided to make sure it was correct. As I suspected, the Olympic Committee, and, more importantly, the Executive Committee, is predominantly male, white, and of a certain age. Shocking.)

Which brings me to Sochi. Just as bad, if not worse, than China, in their horrific human and animal rights violations. Gay-bashing, both figuratively and literally (several videos have surfaced of gays being beaten to within an inch of their lives), Pussy Riot, and now the latest, a massacre of the town's stray dogs in an effort to whitewash the city for its many visitors and viewers.

It doesn't end at Sochi, either. Already, reports are trickling out of Rio of their poorest people being displaced from the ghettos to make way for construction for the 2016 Olympics.

So, what's a person to do? Watch the Olympics anyway, but do as much as I can to raise awareness about Russia's appalling disregard for people and animals? Boycott, and miss out on a rare, amazing exhibition of athletics and culture, while really doing no damage at all to Russia?

I'm going to do the first, I think. It's not the perfect decision, and every time a new story about Sochi's heartless cruelty emerges, I'm going to feel quite a bit of guilt. But there is no perfect solution, I don't think. There never is.

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