Whether you are sports fan or not, the 2014 Winter Olympics could hardly be ignored. This global event has been discussed endlessly on open forums, beforehand and afterward, and the perspectives are quite interesting. The Olympics being held in Sochi seemed to be one of the most conflicted topics on social media. From first-hand accounts to speculations of political conditions to memes and hoaxes that fed our propensity for stereotyping the host country, discussion topics were plenty, full of creativity and passion (well-founded as well as misguided). Even now, a couple of months later, the topic of the Olympics comes up again in light of the Russia/Crimea situation, and raises questions about the expense, success and distortion of the spectacular Olympic games of 2014.
Expense was the name of the Games in Sochi this year. After putting on quite the spectacular and expensive show of global athletic unity for 17 days, Russia handed off the torch to Pyeongchang, South Korea. The total spent on this years' Winter Games, over $50 billion, topped Beijing's 2008 Summer Games, which was $40 billion. Sparing no expense definitely seemed to have the intended effect, however, giving Russia global attention for good reason, and flexing the country's productive and resourceful muscles.
The real-time commentary throughout the games showed us perspectives from different camps. Despite the money matters, many considered the Winter Olympics to be quite a success! A panorama of Russian history and culture throughout the games gave many folks their first glimpse of modern Russia. Nobody, except for Pussy Riot, seemed to abuse the Olympic spotlight in terms of campaigning or otherwise protesting the country's intolerance of the gay community. No terror attacks were reported, serving as another sign of success. The pageantry and performances were spectacular, inspiring, and well-reviewed.
About as slowly unfolding as the fifth Olympic ring in the opening ceremonies, an scandal reveals that Putin spent over $50 billion on construction costs of the Olympic Village and facilities. One suggestion that has surfaced in social media is that Putin's Crimea escapades created one of the best diversions for the people before they got wise to the implied corruption of the Sochi Olympics.
Some consider the Crimea invasion to have been "$50 billion in wasted PR" for Russia so soon after the Olympics in Sochi. But as for Putin, he is enjoying skyrocketing approval ratings from his country as a result of both newsworthy events. So, for now, the critics of the digression of democracy and human rights under Putin's leadership are temporarily overshadowed by the most recent headlines featuring the massive country. These significant social discussions on the issues of corruption and human rights for the gay population in Russia, however, will assuredly continue in the online discussion format, not allowing them to be distorted or hidden by diversion.
Kayla Olsen is a freelance writer and Olympic fan, who has been intrigued by both real-time commentary and subsequent social discussions about the games on sites such as http://www.tawkers.com