Paper Option #2
2014 Winter Olympics: Politics in the Sochi Games
“The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself” (Dawn Fraser). The Olympic Games of our contemporary society began more than a hundred years ago. These games have grown immensely throughout the years, uniting thousands of the world’s finest athletes from over two-hundred nations. The motto of the Olympics, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or, "Faster, Higher, Stronger", was created alongside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. This motto was said to have represented a platform of morality in which these Olympic Games are meant to be held, and the appeal to which these global competitions brings to all. However, due to the competitive nature of society these games have become politically and financially motivated rather than inspired by moral sportsmanship. The man who came up with this Olympic motto once said, “The Olympic Movement gives the world an ideal which reckons with the reality of life, and includes a possibility to guide this reality toward the great Olympic Idea” (Pierre de Coubertin). This statement, to me, holds a valid meaning, though, much different than was originally intended. This “reality of life” in my opinion was initially meant to reflect a structural functionalist ideal. Whereas, I believe the reality of the Olympic Games has become one that is seen from a conflict perspective. In this examination I will show how the politics stemming from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were manifested from a social conflict theoretical perspective. This exploration will analyze some of the more controversial political issues that were present during the 2014 Winter Games. These issues will include those relating to human rights, specifically LGBT rights, as well as the economic or financial issues connected to Sochi. I will also discuss some of the controversy and conflict between competing nations and hosting nation, as well as Vladimir Putin himself. Furthermore, I will discuss some of the affected athletes by the politics surrounding the 2014 Winter Games.
Leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, there was conflict between Russia and many of the competing nations surrounding controversial political issues involved with human rights. The year before the Sochi Olympics the Russian government passed anti-gay laws which intended to outlaw homosexual relations around minors. The goal of the Russian government was to also extend these laws to any visitors to the country. The penalty of breaking these laws by a tourist would be two weeks in prison. These laws show just how uneven the balance of power is in Russia. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian government used the 2014 Olympics, the grandest stage in all of sport, as a political presentation by forcing their nations conflicting ideals and culture on the rest of the world. One of the Olympic Fundamental Principles states that, "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement" (Olympic.org; International Olympic Committee | Olympic Movement Values). The politics at work here conflicted immensely with the Olympic movement and values of sport in general because the host country refused to express equality in favor of their government’s bigoted beliefs.
With all of the political issues surrounding the 2014 Olympic Games, came defiance by some nations, athletes, and Olympic fans around the world. One case came during the game when a Bohdana Matsotska, a female Ukrainian skier, opted out of the remaining competitions to demonstrate his objection of the violence in Kiev the day before. She stated, "I have decided not to take part in my favorite discipline because of the horrible events that are happening in the capital of...
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