By REBECCA FOX
With Olympic Game locations rotating around the globe through the years, each Games brings a different culture and worldly perspective into the eyes of the viewers. Audiences gather around their televisions to watch everything from the enticing opening ceremony to every ‘nail-biting’ event, faithfully following their favorite athletes’ journeys to the podium stand. Along with bringing pride in our own country, the Olympic Games is also a way for different parts of the world to come together in support of great athleticism and competition.
This past week, however, while scrolling through news sites and Buzzfeed articles, I stumbled across harsh critiques of the Sochi Games regarding Russia as a country and the technical glitches of set-ups. While I respect and even agree with some aspects of these critiques, we need to remember the darker history of Russia, looking into how far this area has come and the bigger idea of what the Olympic Games represent as a whole.
Because the initial criticism stems from Sochi being the location of this year’s winter games, I think it’s important to look into the history of the area. One of the world’s most ruthless dictators, Joseph Stalin, once called Sochi his vacation destination. During Stalin’s reign of the Soviet Union for a quarter of a century, he caused the death and suffering of tens of millions. Today, it is now the host of one of the most unifying world-wide events. While the area still might not be perfect, we need to remember how far Sochi has come.
In order for the Olympics to happen, Sochi had to front serious money, 50 billion in counting, in fact. I think this shows tremendous efforts of this area in order to reach beyond its borders and help nations come together under one roof. Sochi is being proactive in trying to maintain a good image and opening its doors for the thousands of athletes that partake in this event. And yes, I have seen the Buzzfeed articles on the technical glitches that can be found all around Sochi. From hotels, streets, and everywhere in between, yes there seem to be some issues, but I honestly believe that when putting on such an extravagant event, everything cannot be perfect. If we look beyond the physical critiques, we can focus on the meaning of the Olympic Games, and why we all compete in them in the first place.
Take for examples, the highly tweeted, posted and shared comments about the failure of the fifth Olympic ring to change during the opening ceremony. Yes, I laughed when scrolling through my newsfeed on Twitter, but from that moment, this became the butt of jokes surrounding the Sochi Games. Because of one small error at the beginning, this started the endless questioning about the credibility of the Games.
Audiences are becoming more and more obsessed with what went wrong at the opening ceremony, than with what went right. The meaning of the five rings during the ceremony was completely lost because the snowflake didn’t change.
Does this glitch change the meaning and symbolism behind the rings?
Not at all.
According the Olympic Charter, the five rings symbolize the union of our five continents and the interaction of athletes from around the globe.
So many different people and organizations are working together to make this huge event happen. Those interactions in themselves are just a few good reasons why the Sochi Olympics matter. Athletes, coaches, volunteers, performers and many more from various countries are working together to give viewers at home a good show.
Sometimes, I think the true meaning of the Games gets lost in our constant jumps to criticism. I remember when I was little and watched the Olympics and was in awe of all of the athletes coming together for some of the greatest rivalries. I would sit on the edge of my seat while they figure skaters would perform their routine, holding my breath when they make those ‘make it or break it’ jumps.
Let’s go back to those Olympics. We shouldn’t highlight every single thing Sochi does wrong, but instead get lost in the ‘magic’ of the Games. I think it’s pretty amazing that an area once inhabited by such a ruthless leader years and years ago, is now the current location of an event that celebrates unity, sportsmanship and greatness. The Olympics don’t come around very often, and with the closing ceremony approaching on Feb. 23, we need to enjoy every remaining minute while we can.