When Russian President Vladimir Putin pitched Sochi as the spot of the 2014 Winter Olympics to the International Olympic Committee, he knew the eyes of the world would be on him and Russia, Steven Lee Myers said Thursday in the New York Times.
“It is, beyond any doubt, a judgment on our country,” Putin said nearly seven years ago when Sochi was selected.
Myers writes that the “Games are a crowning moment for Mr. Putin, a chance to demonstrate anew his mastery of the global levers of power, but perhaps not for the country he governs.” Now under an array of criticism, Putin has little time to overcome an already doubtful world.
According to David Remnick of the New Yorker, Putin is attempting to stitch a wound that’s been festering for more than 30 years.
“Putin, it is safe to say, does not want the Winter Games in Sochi to resemble the fraught events of Moscow in the summer of 1980,” writes Remnick, referring to the XXII Olympic Games that were boycotted by 65 countries, including the United States, over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
However, it is too late, Remnick says. “The reports of fantastical cost overruns and corruption, the criticism about human rights — particularly the outrageous backward legislation regarding gays and lesbians — and the specter of violence in the Caucasus make it impossible to imagine an event as purely athletic, pacific, and show-biz as, say, the 2012 London Games.”
However, some are shying away from judging Russia just yet.
National Interest's Nikolas K. Gvosdev says we shouldn’t be too hasty to judge, but that in any case Putin more than likely doesn’t listen to the West’s criticism.
“Despite the unfinished construction and consistent allegations that a good deal of the funds earmarked for getting Sochi up to speed for the Olympics were diverted away into private accounts,” Gvosdev writes, “Putin did achieve a long-term goal. Moscow was able to oversee the massive redevelopment of this area, the traditional Soviet-era answer to the Riviera.”
According to Gvosdev, Sochi is not a test for the Western media, nor is it even about the Olympics, it’s about whether or not Putin’s administration can complete a major reconstruction of the motherland.
Whether Sochi is about the Olympic narrative or Putin’s ability to build a bold infrastructure, the world is watching, and so far it seems that it’s not going as planned.
Erik Raymond is experienced in national and international politics. He relocated from the Middle East where he was working on his second novel. He produces content for DeseretNews.com. You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org @RaymondErik
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