It seems staging 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia wasn’t a good idea after all.
A lot – mostly negative – news has emerged since Russia was announced as the host country in 2007.
An array of controversies involving the winter games and the absurd attitude of the Russian authorities blew up to the extent that last year, gay rights campaigners and organizations all over the world demanded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relocate the Winter Olympics to Vancouver, Canada.
The furor was put to rest only when the Russian government agreed to compromise and relax its strict policies for the spectators and athletes.
The problems, however, persisted.
The world is just a day away from witnessing the official opening of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Russia still seems to be struggling with the basic preparations, judging by the news reports coming out of the region.
So what exactly is wrong with conducting the event in Russia?
Let’s have a look at all the possible factors in the list compiled below.
Two separate suicide bombings – a day apart – occurred in the Russian city of Volgograd just 40 days before the games, killing 34 people overall.
The blasts raised fears of further attacks since Sochi is about 430 miles (690 km) southwest of Volgograd. Also, in a web-posted video released in July 2013, insurgents threatened to use "maximum force" to prevent the Olympics from being held.
Security remained tight on Thursday, following a warning from the United States over toothpaste tubes containing bomb-making ingredients.
U.S. authorities told airports and some airlines flying to Russia for the Olympics to watch for toothpaste tubes that could hold ingredients to make a bomb on a plane, Reuters reported while quoting a senior U.S. security official.
Apparently terrorism isn’t the only factor driving spectators away from the Sochi Olympics.
Russia’s draconian anti-gay law, which went into effect last year in June, has been the primary reason for all the skepticism and criticism surrounding the event being held in Sochi.
It’s because of the country’s homophobia that international gay rights campaigners and organizations demanded the IOC relocate the games to Canada.
Moreover, just three days ahead of the opening ceremony, Human Rights Watch released a rather disturbing video that showed anti-gay attacks were still rampant in Russia despite the outrage.
Although Vladimir Putin agreed to compromise the ban on homosexuality for the mega sports event, the Russian President didn’t do much to convince gay athletes that they would be welcome in the country.
In January, Putin publicly referred to homosexual people as pedophiles by asking gay visitors to "leave the Russian children in peace".
Cell Phones, Computers And Tablets Hacking:
As if terrorism and homophobia weren’t reason enough to drive audience away, NBC News' Richard Engel reported on Wednesday that cell phones, computers and tablets of foreign athletes, journalists and fans were hacked within a day of arrival.
Engel advised visitors – especially media personnel – to exercise extreme caution while browsing the web and opening email attachments.
With the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics a day away, the Olympic Park – home to the most important venues for the games including the Bolshoy Ice Dome – remained a work in progress.
Russia, however, dismissed criticism of its preparations on Thursday, saying it had set a "wonderful example" for future hosts.
The accommodation situation for non-athletes (media personnel) threatened to become a major embarrassment for organizers when some Olympic-accredited people reportedly had to leave unfinished hotels, or had to check into unfinished rooms.
Stray Dogs Of Sochi:
Hundreds of dogs have reportedly been killed before the games. While the organizers claim there has been no such “cleansing of the streets”, animal rights workers in Russia accuse the authorities of systematic slaughter of dogs.
Activists are rescuing the stray animals from government-hired exterminators, hoping fans and athletes visiting will adopt them.
From the “twin toilets dilemma” to contaminated water, Russia seems a difficult place not just for the Olympics but for surviving on the whole.
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