Sochi and the Nazi Olympics
Published — Wednesday 19 February 2014
Last update 19 February 2014 2:12 am
Not long ago, the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov compared Sochi 2014 with Berlin 1936 declaring, “these are games which revolve entirely around a single man.”
“Anyone who thinks that is an exaggeration is forgetting a very important factor,” he noted. “Hitler in 1936 was seen as a thoroughly respectable and legitimate politician.”
Perhaps he ought, at the very least, to have added “by some.” Doubts about Adolf may not have been rampant at the time of the Berlin Olympics, but they weren’t exactly absent. Doubts about Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, have been loudly, widely and sometimes belligerently been aired across the West. And not entirely without cause.
In the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, commentaries about corruption consumed a fair amount of column centimeters. Cost overruns are commonplace in international sporting events, but they do not usually extend beyond twice the original estimates, whereas in Sochi the eventual outlay has been reported as being four times the initial projection.
Furthermore, questions have long been raised as to why Sochi was picked as the host city, given its longstanding reputation as a subtropical resort in a vast country with no dearth of naturally frozen potential venues. Sochi has been a comfortable retreat for Kremlin leaders since the Stalin era, but there are indications that Putin picked it precisely because it is in the vicinity of the troubled Caucasus region, and its proximity to the Abkhazia war zone. It was, after all, his success in prosecuting a war of attrition in Chechnya that helped to propel Putin to prominence under Boris Yeltsin. There’s a spot of irony in the fact that the closing ceremony at Sochi next Sunday will coincide with the 70th anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of Chechens from their homeland. The accommodating President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has helpfully shifted the commemoration date from Feb. 23 to May 10.
Full article here.