The Russian Olympics

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, get started today.  So far, much of the buzz about the Olympics has been about terrorism fears and complaints about the lack of creature comforts for visitors (undrinkable water, unfinished construction, public toilets without privacy, insects in food, pillows appropriated from hotels for the athletes).

With its legacy of communism, Russian society is not particularly oriented to satisfying consumers, certainly not by the standards of today’s consumer capitalism.  But Russian society tends to be very good, even to a fault, at “security.”

Security is a challenge in a “free country.”  Here, people have freedom of association, freedom to travel pretty much where they want, relative freedom from  surveillance, even the freedom to bear arms.  Security forces in the United States must operate under strict legal limitations.  Authoritarian regimes like Russia have no such scruples.

So I suspect the Olympics will be safe enough, except for Russian citizens deemed suspicious for whatever reason.

I would add that despite these qualities of Russian government and the Russian economy, individual Russians that I have met, both here and there, tend to be warm, friendly, and hospitable.

Here is an account of the problems:  From Sochi, journalists report Winter Olympics woes

The facilities, however, for the actual sporting events are winning high praise:  Sochi Winter Olympics venues meet with enthusiasm – latimes.com.

What are your thoughts, observations, and predictions about the Winter Olympics?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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