Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympics 2014 - To Be Or Not To Be?

On the eve of the Beijing Olympics - an exciting event most of us in different parts of the world were expecting with childish enthusiasm that has perhaps faded over the years, less than 20 miles from Sochi (the prospective host city of the Winter Olympics 2014) the escalation of a major conflict captured millions of viewers and readers from across the world.

A week later, the co-chairs of the congressional House Georgia Caucasus claim that the International Olympic Committee should "punish Russia by moving the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Sochi," as according to a draft of the resolution being prepared by Reps. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., and Bill Shuster, R-Pa.: "the prospective host country has played a significant role in the escalation of that conflict."

However, some consider this to be an over-reaction: IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Friday the IOC believes the Olympics games are "not a tool to be used by politicians."

"It is premature to make judgments about how events happening today might sit with an event taking place six years from now," Davies said in a statement, adding that 35 representatives from the Sochi 2014 are in Beijing observing the games, according to Associated Press.

Some of you may well remember the first-ever U.S. boycott of the Olympics in 1980. The 1980 games were awarded to Moscow and many in the west feared that the games would turn to a propaganda show for the Soviets.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, President Carter pressured the United States Olympic Committee to boycott the games. Moreover, he threatened to withhold funding, revoke the organization's tax exemption if it would not comply. And in fact, it did.

Today, 28 years later, the head of the Sochi organizing committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said in his statement that the committee is aware of the intended resolution, however only the IOC can respond to such matters.

"All our efforts here in China are spent on learning from these wonderful Beijing Games so that we can enhance our offer for the Olympic movement," Chernyshenko said. "At Sochi 2014, our focus is to deliver an excellent and innovative Games that will inspire the world. We are on track to achieve this."

Strangely enough, politics have gone well beyond being solely political matters and now affect everything from music to sports on a global scale - more openly and publicly than ever before. Clearly, this has always been the case, particularly back in the days of the Cold War, but with the ever-growing power of the media (especially in our era of internet domination) it is more apparent than ever before.

Is this pending resolution currently being drafted by the U.S. lawmakers a logical, well-thought-through response to the latest conflict upheaval in South Ossetia or an extreme overreaction to the recent events in the conflict zone?

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