Sochi 2014: The Winter Games in review

     The much-discussed Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi came to a close on 23 Feb complete with lavish fireworks, dancers and colourful costumes.
     This year’s Winter Olympics motto, “Hot. Cool. Yours.” probably could have been better worded, but the opening and closing ceremonies were nothing short of spectacular and lavish—bookending the most expensive Olympic Games in history.
     Russia finished with the most medals during the competition, with 33 in total including 13 gold. It was no big shock that Russia would win the most medals with their athletes impressing in nearly every sport. The USA followed with 28 medals, 9 of which were gold. In third place came Norway with 26 medals, and 11 gold. Great Britain disappointed during the Winter Games with just four medals of which one was gold, one was silver and the remaining two, bronze.
     The USA went big on bronze medals, picking up 12—more than any other nation during this year’s Winter Games. Team USA’s greatest successes came during the freestyle skiing in which they collected a total of seven medals with both the male and female athletes dominating. The American side had sent out 230 athletes that competed in all 15 sports. Their performance during this year’s game was somewhat underwhelming, however, as they had set the margin high during the 2010 Games in Vancouver where they collected a record 37 medals.
     While this year’s Winter Games were fun to watch, as the Olympics do tend to be, the lead up to the event—and the course of it—was rife with controversy. There were allegations of corruption and wasteful spending leading up to and during the Games. Preparations included the building of roads and an $8.7 billion railway, which many both in Russia and abroad, have deemed excessive and needlessly wasteful. The Sochi games became the costliest games in history at $51 billion, breaking China’s record of $40 billion during the Summer Games in 2008.
     Furthermore, there have been loudly voiced concerns over the rights of LGBT athletes and visitors to Sochi after a law was passed in Russia regarding the distribution of the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. There have also been a series of security concerns regarding potential terrorist threats, including concerns regarding a video released by Chechen militant Dokka Umarov, known as “Russia’s Bin Laden”.
     Sport has a powerful role in most societies, one of unity, one that brings people together from various backgrounds. It is often a reflection of society’s big issues; and the biggest issues plaguing the world today are those of money, terrorism and equal rights. In such a globalised world, there are indeed ideological clashes between people from all the different backgrounds that are brought together.
     Large sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup force us to deal with these issues and yet can also show us the beauty and hope of a peaceful, utopic world where these issues no longer plague us.