Dear Athletes, Journalists, Fans in Sochi for the Olympics,
I will applaud loudly.
When the Olympics are over — and if nothing catastrophic happens.
Yeah, sorry to be so forthright, a bit glum and morose, but the emphasis is on “if” in that last sentence. Wish I could replace it with “when” but, in my heart of hearts, I just can’t.
You see, the Olympics get started today and I should be elated, should be jubilant and overjoyed. Part of me, I guess, is a bit excited to watch everything from ice hockey to bobsled (although I think the official name is bobsleigh) to curling to that ridiculous event where you ski for a while, then shoot a rifle, then ski some more then shoot that rifle again.
But, to be frank, that excitement is trumped by worry.
Worry for those of you I know who are in Sochi — the dozen or so journalists I consider friends who are covering the games.
Worry for the athletes who I have covered in the past and hopefully get to continue to cover for a long time — such as Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Lauryn Williams, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Brianne McLaughlin and others.
Worry, too, for the citizens of the United States of America and other countries who have travelled to the city along the Black Sea to spectate what should be one of those events you get to knock off your bucket list.
But, again, I’m worried for all of you. That’s why I will cheer loudest when the games end and if nothing catastrophic happens.
For as much as I want to pay attention to what’s about to happen in Sochi on the playing surfaces, I just can’t get my mind off of what was said on Tuesday.
Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center said:
“There are a number of specific threats of varying degrees of credibility that we’re tracking and we’re working very closely with the Russians and with other partners to monitor any threats we see and to disrupt those.”
That’s not to be taken lightly. At all.
You see, people, this is an Olympics that cost $51 billion to put on — and Putin and his people still couldn’t get it right from an infrastructure standpoint.
Naturally, by now, you have seen the photos of hotel rooms without light bulbs, adequate sleeping quarters and with what some are describing as contaminated — if there’s any at all — water running through the pipes.
Again, not good.
Then there are the dogs. It ain’t a good time to be a dog in Sochi, as you might have read, or even seen for yourself by this point. According to reports, the ones drifting around the city are being killed off, deemed “biological trash” that are simply in the way.
Some compassion, huh?
Oh yes, then there are those in Sochi who are part of the LGBT community. Can’t be an easy time for you. Russia’s intolerance — and Putin’s cavalier way of going about the issue — has been an embarrassment to himself, his country, the world and, well, the advancement of mankind.
This really makes me shake my head.
Certainly when you get a gathering of this many people from this many different places, cultures and backgrounds, there is going to be some tension; there is going to be some uneasiness and apprehension as protocols are set in place to secure the event.
But, in my lifetime, I can’t really remember a sporting event having the anxiety before a single moment was contested like these Sochi Olympics have had. Seemingly for every two great stories in the preview, there have been five about what could go wrong — and, more to the point, what many feel has a pretty good chance to go wrong.
Here’s hoping everything in Sochi goes off swimmingly, without any incidents that will mar or blemish these games.
As for me, like I said, my biggest applause will come when these games are over. And if everyone remains unharmed. Emphasis on “if” — sad as that is.
Sincerely and with genuine concern,
93.7 The Fan – Pittsburgh
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.