Now, before you answer that close-to-rhetorical question, this doesn’t involve Munich or Atlanta. That’s too easy and something that doesn’t involve jokey-jokes.
Back to the show: think about any Olympics (that doesn’t involve human tragedy). Summer or Winter. Name the Olympic Games that has been a bigger punching bag.
Berlin, 1936, was hosted by a sardonic, mustachioed fellow who wanted “his Olympics” to move forward under an Aryan mindset. And then Jesse Owens stuck a bat right up his behind. (Go ‘Merica!)
Mexico City, 1968, featured an iconic picture with Tommie Smith and John Carlos with the black-gloved ‘Power to the People’ salute following their first- and third-place win in the 200m dash respectively. Right on.
Moscow, 1980, the U.S. team weren’t allowed to go because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Wait, what? Seems we would like a do-over compared to public sentiment about that #$%& country, but anywho.
And then, there’s Sochi. President Putin, please take the stand as we rattle off your many terrible PR achievements…
First, Putin easily wins the bronze in the “driving your country into financial ruin” competition.
And Sochi clearly sopped up the competition here being the most expensive Olympics in history by more than three times its nearest competitor (London 2012 and whatever they paid for that ridiculous logo). In 2007, the tiny Russian town of Sochi won the Olympic nod to the tune of $12 billion. More than seven years later, we have $51 billion and still growing. From corruption in concrete to building a rail system from scratch, Putin is looking to make Sochi into a year-round tourist destination. Yeah, good luck with that…
To earn the silver, we have a resoundingly crooked politician who could not care less.
Please don’t get me wrong. As a former KGB agent and ostensibly the owner of that country since Boris Yeltsin gave him the keys to the Red Kingdom in 1999, Putin has a view of “crooked” that’s about as straight as the edge of a CD cover, Rush Limbaugh bashing GLAAD, or someone making fun of Ellen DeGeneres’ mama. You get it…straight. That said, make no mistake: Chuck Norris can kiss this guy’s behind.
And speaking of his behind, Putin would rather drop trow and moon a political equal than shake his or her hand. As for our President, to say that relationships with him and Putin are “tense” would be an understatement. And then Edward Snowden, NSA-defect and international secret guy, was granted asylum in Putin’s fare burg. From Syria to Iran, Putin is outspoken in ways that most Americans aren’t enjoying. Democratic reform hasn’t been reforming the way people would appreciate another owner of nuclear weapons to depreciate. Many political bigwigs aren’t going to meet Putin for these overpriced games, and Putin? Meh. (Or is it “nyet?”)
Finally, Putin takes home the gold for wronging the rights of all mankind.
First, he assumed the most politically charged stance on gay rights in this generation, from banning “gay propaganda” to inspiring President Obama to send openly gay athletes to the Olympic delegation confab. Putin’s statements about gay rights—and his apparent abhorrence of the people behind them—has made this the most outspoken Olympics in history for activists. Symbols, rainbows, statements or fur-lined thongs—I don’t think it matters. Putin has pissed off every gay person and friend-of-a-gay-person (aka most people), and they are willing to boycott medals to make their views known.
And then, we have the rest of the population. It seems Putin isn’t too crazy about them either: he has rescinded an order banning demonstrations in and around the games, but those protest applications still won’t be granted because the Ruble stops with him. He has been accused of mistreating migrant workers who built his $51 billion winter wonderland. He has harassed journalists, threatened activists and ignored everyone but Pussy Riot, for obvious reasons.
So, happy Olympics, everyone. I’m sure NBC can’t wait for the ratings bonanza Putin will bring them. Maybe they’ll send him a card with unicorns on it or something.