The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will provide President Vladimir Putin an opportunity to showcase a reemerging Russia to the world. That's the leader's hope, anyway.
While a successful Olympics in the Black Sea coastal city could polish Putin’s legacy, Sochi cannot seem to escape the geopolitics clouding the Games. In the January issue of National Geographic, reporter Brett Forrest wrote on the issues concerning safety and Moscow’s stance on gay rights that could be ongoing discussion topics during the two-week event.
From National Geographic:
Russia is an empire no more. Like other great and large nations, however, it still aches to be one. It must find an outlet for its urges, and over two weeks in February, it will have it. Through force of Russian will, the Winter Olympics are coming to an unlikely location. The Sochi Games on the Black Sea coast will take place in the backyard of a recent war with Georgia, on the site of what many call the genocide of a people (the Circassians), and in the orbit of an Islamic insurgency (in Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya). The state has resurrected a fearsome militia, the Cossacks, to help keep the peace that some might design to upend. Allegations of graft circulate widely, high temperatures threaten the snowfall necessary for competition, and activists have called for a boycott over antigay legislation enacted by the Russian parliament. In response Putin has banned protests and rallies in Sochi during the games.
The Sochi Games, which open Feb. 7, will total at least $50 billion in costs, making them the most expensive Olympics ever.