Editorial: As Olympics near, concerns remain

By TNH Editorial Staff
On February 4, 2014

Only days away from the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, stories focused on the long-anticipated events are gaining momentum as athletes and reporters continue to arrive in Russia. Many of the stories report last minute injuries, athletes' training schedules, conditions of the facilities in Sochi, and the excitement to come over the two-and-half-week period of the XXII Olympic Winter Games.

As they should, many of these reports are concentrated on the games and athletes, but many stories are also centered on much more serious topics, leaving the athletic events as the secondary topics. Concern is growing around the preparedness of Sochi for the games; numerous news outlets have been reporting on the uncertain safety in Sochi and the surrounding area, the controversy of the killing of stray dogs in the city, and uncompleted buildings in the Olympic village, among many other areas of concern that have been discussed since shortly after Sochi was announced to host the 2014 Games.

By nature, the Olympics are an athletic event, but they are also a political event. According to a CNN report, there will be athletes from 85 countries participating in these games. With so many representatives of nations brought together, issues apart from the winning of athletic competitions will always become relevant. 

This year, however, it seems as though these controversial topics have been dominating the discussions leading up to these games. With citizens of at least 85 countries - arguably, the whole world - watching the games, it is necessary that these topics are heavily discussed as precautions.

Security concerns have been the dominant issue leading up to the events in Sochi over the past few years and in the more recent months. In a region outside of Sochi, 34 people were killed in December by Islamic Insurgents, according to December articles in The New York Times. Even as security tightens in and directly around Sochi, threats cannot completely be eliminated in the volatile regions outside of the resort village.

While these discussions surrounding the Olympics are needed to preserve the games and protect the athletes, it is becoming difficult to remember that athletic competitions are still at the center of the Olympics. In order for athletes from all of the participating countries to be able to focus on what they have traveled to Sochi for - to compete in their sports as the top athletes in the world - this intense focus on these surrounding issues is unfortunately a necessity.

Hopefully, as the athletes parade in front of the world in Sochi in the opening ceremony and begin competing in their events, focus can slowly shift to the sports that are at the center of the Olympics. Security, conditions of the preparations in Sochi, and other issues that have been questioned lately should not be forgotten as the games commence, but they will hopefully not overshadow the talent of the thousands of athletes in Russia.

Whether or not these concerns have been legitimate or exaggerated will be seen in the next few weeks, once events begin at the end of this week. Hopefully the stories remembered from the Sochi Winter Olympics are of athletic triumph, but with the many foreshadowed concerns, these do not seem to likely be the only stories remembered from these Games.

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