Olympics at Sochi

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President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin

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President Vladimir Putin

chris thornton, writer

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After the (mostly) astonishing success of the 2010 Whistler/ Vancouver Olympics, the next Olympics took place in Sochi, Russia. Sochi is a city in the black sea resort area of Russia, just beside the Caucasus Mountains. The games went from February 7-23, with the Paralympics games happening during the following two weeks. Amid international disagreement with Russia’s extremely vague homosexual propaganda laws, as well as having an estimated price tag seven times greater than the last winter Olympics, each athlete attending the games had an average of sixteen security personnel. The need for an increase in security in the area is great. Chechnyan insurgents have been trying to carve out an Islamic state in the area, independent of Russia. This has lead to wars and terrorist attacks in the area, in 1994 and 2000.

Before the fall of the USSR in 1991, many of the states in the USSR were formerly governed independently from Russia because of diverse cultural and ethnic groups. After the fall of the USSR the federation treaty was signed by all but two of the Russian states, Chechnya and Tartarstan. Later, Tartarstan was signed on to the federation treaty in exchange for greater independence from Russia. The first Chechnyan war occurred three years later which was ended by the signing of a peace treaty after much guerrilla warfare and over 100,000 civilian deaths. In 1994, only five years after the first Chechen war ended Chechen radicals invaded Dagestan, which lead to Russian forces invading Chechnya and eventually seizing the capital, Grozny, in February of 2000.  Chechnya is 100 miles away from the site of the Sochi Olympic Games.

Doku Umarov (leader of the unofficial Chechen republic of Ichkeria) and leader of the Chechnyan insurgents broadcasted his plans to disrupt the Sochi Olympics, In July. He called for his followers and all Muslims in the area to carry out this goal by all means necessary. Vladimir Putin, the current president of the Russian Federation, has said that he will base his success as president on the success of the Sochi Olympic Games. This painted a grim picture for the Sochi Olympics because any potential troublemakers who are anti Putin or pro Chechnya will attempt to disrupt the games. Many world leaders did not make an appearance at the Olympics because of the threats to security.

In recent months there have been terrorist bombings in Volgograd that have killed over 33 and injured hundreds. On January 16 while the Russian security forces were raiding the house of a known Chechnyan insurgent, a gunfight broke out killing three Russian security officers and five Chechnyan insurgents. Two explosive devices were found and deactivated.

In response to the Volgograd suicide bombings, president Putin has drastically increased security nationwide and especially at Sochi. To ensure the safety of the 2500 international athletes competing in the Olympics, there are 40,000 personnel. There are an additional 37,000 security personnel on site to deter possible terrorist threats.

The cost of last winter Olympics in Vancouver was 7 billion. The estimated total cost of the Sochi Olympics is 50 billion, a massive price to pay that will no doubt deter many cities from applying to host future winter Olympics. To put that number in scale, A billon seconds ago it was 1983.

In the end, the Winter Olympics to successfully united cultures and nations in the name of sport and for the greater good, above all politics and policies. Other than a few minor incidents, the Olympics went smoothly and according to plan.

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