The Idiocy of Olympic Values

It should surprise no one that the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, turned out to be wildly expensive and riddled with corruption. But the root of the problems in Sochi lies much deeper – with the supposed apolitical nature of sports.

NEW YORK – It should surprise no one that the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, turned out to be wildly expensive and riddled with corruption. But the scale of excess is nonetheless staggering. The cost of building ski slopes, ice rinks, roads, halls, and stadiums for winter sports in a subtropical Black Sea resort has been well over $50 billion. Critics say that half of this was either stolen or paid as kickbacks to President Vladimir Putin’s cronies, who just happened to win the biggest contracts.

One critic, a Russian businessman named Valery Morozov, claims that officials in Putin’s own office demanded payoffs for contracts. After being told that he would “be drowned in blood,” Morozov fled the country.

But what did anyone expect in a country where big business, organized crime, and politics so often coincide? And, the grand scale aside, Russia is hardly the only country where Olympic sports, Formula One racing (also to take place later this year in Sochi), or World Cup soccer is a boon for larceny and graft.

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