As we enter the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, the major media themes are focused in two areas – gay rights and security issues. As it gets even closer, the focus is turning to Russia’s preparations for the Games and even stray dogs.
As we look back in recent history, public and media attention have been focused on any number of controversies leading into the Games. Each sparks debate and each is given a greater spotlight due to the global nature of the Olympic Games. It is common in other sports as well. Just look at the lead-in to the Super Bowl last week and the focus was on weather, Peyton Manning’s legacy and Richard Sherman’s words. (Quite candidly, the nation’s media understand football more than the Olympic sports too!)
If history prevails, this will subside as soon as competition starts and then the focus squarely in its rightful place – the athletes and their performances.
But as we enter Sochi, let’s look back at a few of the more memorable pre-Olympic “stories” that captured the world’s attention prior to the Games:
1980, Moscow: the U.S. boycott resulting from the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan.
1984, Los Angeles: the retaliation boycott of countries including then Soviet Union.
1988, Seoul: North Korea boycott.
1994, Lillehammer: Tonya. Nancy.
2002, Salt Lake City: the bid scandal involving several IOC members.
2004, Athens: security and concerns about the city’s readiness.
2008, Beijing: human rights issues and the cost of the Games themselves.
2012, London: safety and international terrorism.
2014, Sochi: security concerns, stray dogs, cost to stage the Games and gay rights issues.
2016, Rio de Janeiro: security issues and concern over venue readiness.
2020, Tokyo: concerns over after-effects of the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
Let’s hope we don’t lose sight of these important topics, and give the Olympic athletes the biggest stage.