I apologize for interrupting your Thanksgiving Eve happiness with a very troubling issue, but I think it’s worth your time.
Something very bad is about to happen in Sochi, Russia.
Recently, there have been plenty of articles written about the problems with the 2014 Winter Games, but it took a piece from HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel to really drive the issues home for me. Maybe seeing it on video was the clincher, or maybe they just did the best job digging into the scariness of Russian leadership in 2013.
In short, Russian president Vladimir Putin is spending upwards of $50 billion to put on a massive public relations campaign for the world under the guise of winter sport. His Olympics will cost more than any other Winter Games, according to the report, and it’s all a big sham.
His buddies and business partners are the ones getting the construction projects, many of which are costing far more than experts believe they should. The report mentioned one 30-mile road built to connect the town to the mountains where events will be held, and it cost $9 billion to build. The project was awarded to a man who owns a home next to one of Putin’s houses.
Now, it’s shady enough to give your friend a project like this, but it’s pretty clear Putin’s pals are also getting lavish kickbacks for building his Olympic venues. In a country where tens of millions of people are without clean water or working toilets, maybe all this money would be better spent in places other than sports, the report argues, and I tend to agree. Russians live 10 fewer years than Americans, on average, and their leader is only worried about putting on a good show for the world to see how awesome Russia is.
Never mind that they’re painting the exterior of some of the most despicable government housing in the developed world, just to cover up the horrid living conditions inside. Or that they’re building walls so visitors can’t see dilapidated shanties from the road.
If you have time, watch this week’s episode of Real Sports to get the full report. I promise it’s worth 10 minutes of your day. If you don’t have access to the episode, you can get a taste of what’s happening in Sochi on the show’s website.
Either way, it’s not a good thing when I say the 2014 Winter Games in Russia might be an Olympics unlike any other.