Many athletes, politicians and regular Americans are up in arms about Russia’s hosting of the upcoming Winter Games as civil liberties and human rights violations are being more and more publicized by day. Russia’s recent anti-homosexual laws and subsequent violence against the gay community there raises many concerns not only of human rights, but of player safety. It is almost guaranteed that a few Olympic athletes will be homosexual, regardless of whether or not it is public knowledge. And if the recent attack against a Dutch diplomat in Russia is any indication, then nobody is considered “off-limits” in regards to anti-gay violence.
Even the stadiums built for the Winter Games have been the source of dispute. Over half of all the money sunk into the stadiums went to bribe officials in the oligarchic country. Corruption is expected and typical of any building project in Russia, where the government and mafia have to be bribed in order for any work to be done.
Of course, the Russian games are not the first international games to have controversy, nor will they be the last. Currently, the 2016 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is experiencing controversy about the rights of women in a state that is dominated by Sharia law. Brazil, the next host of the World Cup still has issues stemming from the favelas (basically gang-run slums) that have been cleared to make room for the extra tourism that will be headed to the country for the games. And every major international sporting event carries with it the unfortunate expectation of illegal sex trafficking to appeal to the masses of young men coming to watch the games.
The long and short of the issue is that the location of the Games will not change, especially this late in the game. The Winter Olympics will continue to proceed as usual, and unless a tragedy like Munich occurs, then the human rights issues will be a footnote in history. But with all the controversy over a wide variety of international games, it is time to start asking ourselves, “Is it worth it?”