By Arthur L. Caplan and Lee H. Igel
Philly.com | February 7, 2014
As the 22d Winter Olympic Games begin in Sochi, Russia, it is reasonable to ask: What are they doing there? What has been happening in Sochi makes the best possible case for putting both the Winter and Summer Games each in a secure, Olympics-ready location forever.
The Sochi Games are likely to retire the prize for most corrupt sports event ever organized. The graft involved in turning this seaside resort town into an Olympic venue has contributed to cost overruns so large that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken to both ripping and defending the final bill of about $51 billion. By some estimates, $18 billion of that sum has been embezzled, kicked back, and dealt under the table by officials and business people – many of them cronies of Putin. This despite the fact that four years ago, Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, ordered an investigation into allegations that bribes were being accepted by officials in the Kremlin.
Not only is Sochi the all-time graft champion, it has already proven competitive for securing a prize in the “most obnoxious attitude toward human rights” category, with Putin’s obsessive hatred of homosexuality making it hard to see how any athletes can compete there.
To its credit, the United States Olympic Committee has asked its athletes to take a vow that they will not engage in discrimination based on sexual orientation during the Games. But Russia has a new law prohibiting the advocacy of nontraditional sexual relationships – read “homosexuality” – among minors. As the Games grew closer, hardly a day went by without Putin or other Russian leaders uncorking another calumny against homosexuals.
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