You should hate the Olympics

This Friday, the 2014 Winter Olympics will begin in Sochi, Russia. Athletes from all over the world will come to compete in the Caucasus region. Gold medals will be won, fame will be found and, as always, the problems generated by this global event will be ignored.

The International Olympic Committee and its defenders will tell you that the games are a wonderful thing. That could not be further from the truth.

If you are a property owner in Sochi, you had better hope that the Russian government does not want your home.

The Human Rights Watch reported that more than 2,000 families were forced off of their land so sporting complexes could be built. One would hope that this practice is exclusive to Russia, but unfortunately it has gone on for decades.

According to a report in 2008 from the Geneva, Switzerland-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, more than 2 million people have been displaced during Olympic preparations.

In Beijing, over 1 million people were forced from their homes in preparation for the Summer Olympics in 2008. In the run up to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, 2,000 public housing units were demolished to make the city acceptable for the IOC.

This practice is immoral and unjust. There is something deeply wrong when a society deems it necessary to shift around its citizens for the sake of what amounts to an international beauty pageant.

Aside from gross violations of property rights, the IOC also goes to great lengths to stifle any anti-Olympic dissent. Due to lack of coverage, most people are often unaware of the draconian powers granted to a host city’s police during the games.

During the 2010 games in Vancouver, a newly passed law made any material critical of the games illegal and actually gave police the power to enter an individual’s home and seize it.

That is not normal. No free society should stifle dissent during an international event. It is truly mind boggling that nations like Canada will go to great lengths to silence criticism of an event where people skate around in a circle, but will allow protestors to be as loud and violent as they want during any other time of the year. It’s absurd.

My opinion does not mean much on the international level. It would be great if the IOC and nations the world over wised up about the Olympics as an institution and stopped these outrageous practices, but that’s not going to happen.

Instead, I hope anyone who reads this column and watches the event is now more mindful of the people who are hurt by all the glitz and glamor produced for athletes and viewers all over the world. God knows that not enough people are.

Evan Pretzer is a junior communication major from from Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.