Olympic athletes on thin ice


Graphic by Kelly Roehrig

Emily Lodahl

The Sochi 2014 winter Olympics have brought up many concerns and controversies for safety. Sochi was not a wise location for the Olympics.

The Olympics officially started Feb. 6 and end on Feb. 23 in Sochi, Russia, and 88 countries will be competing. Russia has a history of violence where Islamic militant groups began bombings going back to the 1990’s. Workers scrambled to prepare for the Olympics up to and after the start of the opening ceremony, which caused much hardship on the athletes and tourists.

In Volgograd, Russia, 500 miles from Sochi, there were three bombings that killed more than 30 people. The first one was in Oct. and the other two in Dec. In July, 2013 and January, 2014, the group responsible for the bombings vowed to target the Sochi Olympics.

In January, 2014, suicide bombers called “black widows” were identified to be in Sochi and the threat to seek revenge on their husband’s death was apparent.

Clearly, the International Olympic Committee, who choose the location for the Olympics, could not have seen this coming seven years ago. But, they should have taken into account all of the possible risks they are putting the citizens and athletes into since Russia has been living under the threat of terrorist attacks since the 1990’s.

The U.S. took international warnings seriously by sending two warships off coast of the Black Sea to deploy FBI agents and to share counter-terrorism and intelligence with Russia. They are on stand-by in case an attack is made on Sochi.

The government did a decent job at making sure that people were aware of the dangers of coming to Russia. To reduce risk of any terrorist attacks, they informed foreigners to not wear their country’s apparel outside of the Olympic grounds as well as team up with Russia in the Black Sea. Many people who had bought tickets already chose to stay home instead of taking their chances in Sochi because they would much rather lose money than lose their lives.

One event in the Olympics has been scrutinized for safety on the Slope style course. Several snowboarders were injured during the games and past gold medalist Shawn White even dropped out of the competition. Several snowboarders appealed for changes to be made to courses to make them less dangerous.

Sochi should have been more cautious when building the courses. They do not need to make everything to the extreme to impress people. It is dangerous and puts the athletes in unsafe conditions.

The hotels and roads themselves seemed to be built quickly and carelessly. The evidence of problems was seen when Olympic bobsledder, Johnny Quinn, was locked in the hotel bathroom and had to break the door down to get out. Later, he also got trapped in the hotel elevator. (Source 5)

The visitors’ hotels are a different story. One would at least think that they would have the top quality facilities for the athletes. At least functional ones. Many people have gotten to their hotel rooms with people already sleeping in them. Almost every room had something missing: light bulbs, TVs, lamps, chairs, curtains, WiFi, heat and hot water.

Water in Sochi was scarce at first in many locations. When water was available, it came out of the tap yellow in color, like apple juice. Many hotels told people to not put the water on their faces because it was dangerous and even acidic.

Water is a necessary item to have at all times. With Sochi’s water lines being inefficient, people could go malnourished and dehydrated. Also, they could get serious injuries or sickness from accidentally drinking the water. Russia was given a large amount of water for the Olympics, and the least they could do is have clean, safe water.

The effort for the Sochi Olympics looks extraordinarily weak. President Putin wanted to show his pride for his country and his effort to show how strong his country has become under his control. His plan to enhance his reputation has gone down the drain. But of course he did not plan all of this to happen. The cost of the Sochi games has been said to be more than $50 billion, the most expensive games ever, yet there are still so many problems. Russia should have spent their time and money more wisely to plan for the Olympics.