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The Blue & Gray Press | October 21, 2017

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Sochi Olympics garners negative response before games

By KRISTEN LAWRENCE

With just a few short weeks until the 2014 Winter Olympics, the world’s eyes are turning to Sochi. However, not all of those looks are favorable.

On the top on the list of concerns is the string of recent terrorist attacks Russia has fallen victim to, as well as the video threat laid against the upcoming Olympics by those wputinlgbtho took responsibility for the previous attacks.

There is also the unpleasantness of Russia’s own actions in tightening its anti-gay laws, which now prohibit the sharing of information about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and outright ban on gay pride rallies.

With anti-gay sentiment rising to a fever pitch, concerns are raised for the LGBT athletes and civilians planning to compete or attend these games.

With the added threat of a terrorist attack, Sochi is a particularly uninviting venue. Now, with only a few weeks remaining until the Opening Ceremony, there is not much that can be done apart from canceling; a drastic action that was last taken before the 1940 Olympics due to the breakout of World War II.

The question remains, then: is there sufficient impetus to postpone these Olympic games, or even cancel them?

With so much time and concentrated effort put into preparing for the Games, it seems implausible that everything be shut down at this advanced stage, especially if the standard to set is the onset of a World War.

Can terrorist threats or the potential for rights violations set the new standard for cancellation of a worldwide event?

Putin recently came forward to announce stricter security measures spurred by the two bombings in Volgograd, Russia, on top of publicly denouncing “xenophobia” against LGBT individuals during press meetings, but is that enough to put the lives of athletes and civilians at risk?

With reports of anti-gay violence streaming out of Russia and developments in the cases of the two Volgograd bombings still arising, the implausible may not be the least attractive action.

Some might argue that to pull back now would be to let the terrorists win, or to let the anti-gay activists and rioters win, or at least think they have won.

Some may even bring to light the case of Jesse Owens, the African American track and field athlete who competed in the 1936 Olympics in Germany in spite of Hitler’s racist propaganda and Nazi dictatorship.

They argue that if Jesse Owens could stand up to Nazi Germany, what is to stopping LGBT athletes from competing and proving themselves equals to those who would seek to curb their rights?

These are noble ideas, well befitting the spirit of the Olympics and its ideas of fair and honest competition for all countries, but being noble does not necessarily indicate wisdom.

There is turbulence occurring on both a national and international scale, and it is starting to feel like a pot waiting to boil over.

There is a perfect storm of disaster waiting in the wings, and a dozen or so cues just waiting for the hand to give the signal.

It will be everyone who will lose in Sochi if things go sour.