Editorial: IOC should add social component to selection process

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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As next month’s Sochi, Russia, Winter Olympics approach, many still question the looming structural completion deadline of many of the Olympic Games’ venues and final preparations, but few seem to be questioning Russia’s cultural development as the host country. In remarks Friday to those preparing the games, Russian President Vladimir Putin reassured everyone of the tranquil environment of Sochi.

“You can feel relaxed and calm,” Putin said. Referencing his country’s ban of homosexual propaganda, he reiterated, “but please, leave the children alone,” as the New York Times reports.

Unfortunately, Putin has reignited the flame of social inequality this past Friday in Sochi. In light of Russia’s legislature banning homosexual propaganda, and Putin’s publicized stance on homosexuality, the Olympic Games will once again be subject to a host country’s widespread social injustices. This trend must be reversed immediately.

In 2008, the world’s best athletes competed in a pollution-absorbed Beijing, China, a region filthy with human rights violations. China, known for rights violations such as its treatment of Tibet and violations committed within its own borders, was the place for the most expensive Summer Olympics ever. The International Olympic Committee commented little about such atrocities, and the games carried on.

Now in 2014, the International Olympic Committee has once again overlooked crucial social issues and have undermined what the games exemplify by allowing Sochi to be the next foundation for global solidarity.

The Olympics represent an idea of unity, where countries temporarily neglect conflicts and accept the rehabilitating effects sports have on diminishing turmoil. For the International Olympic Committee to fail to update the rubric by which it deems countries suitable to host future games, it contradicts the premise of organizing international competitive sporting events in the first place.

Although a country’s economic stability surely stands as a determining factor in a country’s ability to host a successful Olympic Games, the committee must also consider the social state of countries when deeming a country a potential host. As it stands, the committee looks at economic health, media exposure and future growth as deciding factors that make a country a potential candidate.

An additional component to the committee’s rubric should address the progress a country has made socially, particularly granting its citizens rights that have increasingly become necessary to advance. With this, the games will be more likely to be hosted in nations that are not only fiscally capable of building a village but can also be an example of social advancement for the dozens of nations that will be watching.

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