Strap yourself in it’s the Sochi Winter Olympics


By Shahin Ghoreishi

Since the inaugural event in the French winter resort of Chamonix in 1924, the Winter Olympics have been held every four years, except during World War II, with generations of fine athletes competing against each other for the top prizes in their respective disciplines. Now, it’s here again: from February 7 until February 23, Sochi is hosting one of the most important and famous events in 2014. Many Winter Olympics fans are looking forward to watching it and some people have already gone there to see the games with their own eyes.


Russia has been working very hard to prepare Sochi for the games. A fundamentally important issue for this kind of international competition is ensuring safety. Lots of people are visiting Russia for this event and they simply have to be safe. This all comes in the wake of a pair of suicide bombers killing 34 people last month in Volgograd, which has raised fears of terrorist strikes in Russia during the Winter Olympics. Since then, President Putin has added 40,000 security personnel to increase people’s trust in Sochi as a safe place for millions of people and athletes for the duration of the Winter Olympics.

In a recent speech, President Obama requested that all Americans who are planning to go to Russia to let the US know about their plans and get some advice before they leave. Obama said that he would be more confident to talk about the safety of the Winter Olympics if it was taking place in the US. However, he should not forget about the tragic Boston Marathon bombing.

The other issue that Russia is dealing with is accommodation. Some hotels are not yet ready to welcome their guests who booked and paid months ago. Some of the hotels in the mountains have energy and problems getting materials, while the others are faced with a lack of basic amenities, such as telephones, televisions and even toilet paper. Some of the guests are even told to settle in the city until their mountain rooms are prepared.

Recent restrictions against gay people in Russia have become a serious issue and have seen people take to the streets in protest. This front page news is having a significant negative impact on Sochi’s attendance. It’s not only been on the main news pages but the non-humane laws have been slammed on many people’s Facebook pages. Russia has been always strict on these laws and referred them to the central church and religious party in Russia. It could be a good excuse for the Russian President but he already knew that if he persists on this issue they would lose some of their visitors and sponsors like Coca Cola. After some demonstrations in Russia and other countries in the world, Putin welcomed all gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender-athletes and fans to come to Sochi and enjoy their time. He also released two members of the Pussy Riot group who where imprisoned about two years ago.


The Stars of Sochi?

While the much decorated women’s downhill skier Lindsey Vonn is consigned to the commentary booth with a knee injury, Patrick Chan from Canada is one of the stars that has a great chance of winning the men’s figure skating. The 22-year-old is the three-time reigning world champion and is favorite to become the first Canadian man to win the men’s Olympic gold after a poor sixth place at his home games in Vancouver. He won Skate Canada recently. In the woman’s event, watch out for the 23-year-old Japanese superstar Mao Asada who is two-time world champion, in 2008 and 2010. The youngest Olympic champion in world men’s luge history is Flex Loch from Germany. He has also won eight gold medals at the world championships.

In the previous Winter Olympics held in Canada, the overall first place went to hosts Canada with 26 medals including 14 gold, seven silver and five bronze medals. In second place was Germany with a total of 30 medals, including 10 gold, 13 silver and seven bronze. And the third place went to the United States with 37 medals, nine of which were gold.


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