Is Gold Really worth It This Year?

The lights, the electricity of the crowd, the passing of the torch: it’s every athlete’s dream come true. But the 2014 Winter Olympics, taking place in Sochi, Russia, tells a little bit of a different tale. The city is not exactly an eye opening tourist attraction. There has been complaint upon complaint before the games even began about the unacceptable conditions that the rest of the world would soon be immersed in.

The hotels are not up to par, the water looks a little more brown than we’re used to, and the city itself is nothing like the spectacle of celebration we are used to when the Olympics rolls around. So this begs the question: Is Gold really worth it this year? With these unprecedented conditions, and constant fear of attack, what must these athletes be feeling? Can they truly be focused on winning a gold medal when they are in the cross fire of a political conflict?

The stories from the athletes in Sochi do not seem to be impacted yet. The US women’s hockey team seems to be over the moon with their accommodations, and respectively have been performing at a high level in their opening game. On the opposing side of things reporters and other non-athletes who have been involved in Sochi tell a remarkably different story. Reporters have found some sense of satire when they take to Twitter, attempting to make light of the situations. One story that broke Friday was that hotel rooms that were supposed to house guests, as the Olympics began Friday, were still under construction. Everyone seems to understand that with an event of this magnitude things are bound to go wrong.

However, one snowboard and ski course builder did not find this attitude acceptable. Johnnie Balfour describes on his blog how Sochi had treated him a few weeks prior to the Olympics beginning. His description is nothing short of what can only be described as a new Charlotte Bronte novel. His blog post, which was quickly deleted but appeared on the website Reddit soon after, depicts a depressing story of a seemingly inadequate country with few resources and a severe lack of communication problem. He then describes that Russian Olympic officials instructed his partners and himself to open Russian bank accounts for the time they were there. When Balfour refused, he said they were opened in his name anyway.

We will never truly know what is really going on over there. Sochi planned strategically; they made the athletes comfortable and as far as we can tell are keeping them safe. However, they forgot that the people who report what is actually going on are perhaps more influential than the actual athletes competing. The most positive outcome in this series of somewhat unfortunate events is that our athletes are taken care of and are kept safe. We can only hope they are able to enjoy this experience that they have worked a lifetime for, and that this can be a lessoned learned for the IOC for the future.


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