The Winter Olympics are to be held in the aging Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2014. That gives the International Olympic Committee time to move the games elsewhere.
Pulling the Winter Olympics out of Sochi really is a concrete way of saying the world finds Russia’s invasion of a smaller, much weaker neighboring democracy unacceptable.
Although Russia has declared a cease-fire – and apparently violated it – the Georgian-Russian conflict does not seem capable of a resolution that is either quick or happy.
Holding the games in Sochi would be truly dreadful symbolism. Sochi is just a few miles from Abkhazia, which Russia is close to wresting by force from Georgia, along with about half of Georgia’s Black Sea coastline.
Certainly by 2014 the world will not have forgotten that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hurried home from the Beijing Olympics to preside over armored columns pouring across Georgia’s border.
Spurning Sochi might have special resonance with Putin. He personally lobbied the IOC to hold the games there, and the Kremlin hoped that a successful and spectacular games would show off a resurgent Russia.
The Russians are probably also counting on Sochi erasing the embarrassment of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, boycotted by more than 50 nations, including the United States, China, West Germany and Japan in protest over Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Barring an improbable breakout of peace and understanding, Sochi is now too tainted to hold the games. There are plenty of other venues.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel Knoxville, Tenn. Via Associated Press Wire