It was the rounding up of stray dogs, an attempted extermination, which led me say in a blog post what has apparently been quoted around the world. "If you do watch the Olympics cuddled up on the sofa with your four-legged best friend, think of the dogs (or cats) outside that Olympic venue or down the road that are being shot at or poisoned."
I realize none of what's gone on in Sochi is the fault of our amazing athletes.
However, what's gone on and continues to happen in Sochi exceeds politics of individual nations which what the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach says we should "overlook." I agree about that - but should Bach and the IOC overlook their own creed? If so, they should simply change their creed.
From the International Olympic Committee creed, "The Olympic Movement works to expand such lessons beyond the sports arena in the hope of promoting peace and a sense of brotherhood throughout the world."
Humanity? Really? Promoting brotherhood, or looking the other way?
Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, the company whose function it is to catch and kill any roaming dogs or cats in Sochi told reporters that the (stray) dogs are "biological trash."
He added he was stunned day before the opening ceremony when he attended a rehearsal for the opening and saw a stray dog walking in on the performers. "A dog ran into the Fisht Stadium, we took it away. God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country."
Of course, a stray dog meandering into an Olympic venue is an absolute disgrace, yet, shooting or poisoning those dogs is not?
Is it mere politics that gay/lesbian rights in this country are non existent? If you 'come out' in Russia, you will be discriminated against. It's perfectly legal and acceptable, according to the Council for Global Equality, to persecute anyone who may not be straight. Hate crime is on the rise, something which - it may be argued - the Russian Government has orchestrated. Certainly, this is in Olympic spirit of promoting peace and brotherhood throughout the world, is it not?
Another scandal is the exploitation of 70,000 migrant workers -- "slave labor," who have been subjected to such abuse their cause has been taken up by Human Rights Watch as they built the Olympic village, including accommodations which reporters and athletes are sleeping in. According to various media reports, they've been cheated of wages, forced to work 12-hour shifts with virtually no time off, had their passports confiscated, and housed in filthy, overcrowded quarters. Certainly, this treatment of fellow human beings is also promoting peace and brotherhood, and within the purview of the Olympic spirit.
And how about the athletes themselves? Some don't even live in the nation they represent, from professional hockey players to athletes like Roberto Carcelé, who at 43 and a Microsoft employee in Seattle, WA but represents his native Peru as a skier. He has no real ties with the South American nation.
According to the IOC Olympic creed, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle." Apparently, this is true at any cost, hence the rigorous drug testing and no matter where you really live.
Have the Olympics become a sham?
I maintain a high regard for the vast majority of athletes. None of this is their doing, and most have worked hard (an understatement) to get there. I was once a huge Olympic supporter, a member of the Board of Directors of a local Olympic committee which funded a few athletes, some actually made it the Olympics - but that was back when I was high school and local newspaper reporter. Today, industry supports those same athletes, and such local grass-roots financial support wouldn't be necessary. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad, but I am sure the Olympics aren't the same. I suppose the world isn't the same either. But maybe instead of looking the other way, the IOC could say, "Politics aside, we will still enforce our creed of humanity - they are not mere words."
Some have cheered me on, regarding my suggestion to simply watch something other than NBC's coverage of the Olympics. Others have correctly pointed out that animals die here by the millions in shelters, and that we too persecute gays, and that people here are also poor and many work for meager wages.
All true, but we don't hire exterminators to shoot or poison dogs. We don't actively encourage hatred (for the most part); in fact, there are crimes called 'hate crimes.' And it's been awhile since slave labor has been legal here. These aren't mere political issues. And f the IOC doesn't take a stand, our public officials don't take a stand (though President Obama has come close), perhaps as individuals we can.
As I said in a previous post, I agree with Keith Olbermann's commentary.
It's too late to boycott the Olympics, but it's not too late to boycott watching the games.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Tags: Alexi Sorokin, animal abuse, boycott watching Olympics, exterminating dogs, human rights Russia, International Olympic Committee, IOC, killing dogs, President Barak Obama, Russian slave labor, Steve Dale, Steve Dale archives, stray dogs Sochi, Vladimir Putin