To Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a short amount of time, your country will play host to the 22nd Winter Olympiad, which is arguably the third biggest international sporting event behind the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. First of all, let me extend my heartiest congratulations.
Seven years ago. you helped put together a winning bid to have Sochi host the Olympic games. Your bid beat out bids from more established cities in South Korea and Austria, in the hopes that the world would look more kindly on you. You must have been so proud.
However, did you even put together an acceptable host package AFTER winning the host bid? Let the evidence answer the question for you.
Seven years later, and there are reports that Sochi hasn’t even finished its preparations for the games. Reports of pathetic souvenir bags, unfinished Olympic Village construction, substandard facilities, tainted drinking water, stray animals being killed, not to mention Russia’s laws on homosexuality and the constant terrorist threats and the recent attack on a train station have made your Olympic dream, to put it in the lightest words, a joke.
As someone who takes pride in his country and the athletes that go to each Olympiad, I honestly am disgusted with the pathetic excuse of a show that you have put together for the world’s finest winter sportspeople. These people put everything on the line in order to come to your country. They spent countless hours training, risking injury and loss, and this is what you give them? To give a perfect comparison, it’s like inviting a large group of people over for a fancy dinner and you put off preparations until the last minute; when you finally realize that you forgot to make the dinner, you get pizza and chicken wings and cheap beer or berry wine. And on top of that, the house is a mess.
Mr. President. the Olympics are about effort, a chance to show that your country is worth visiting. When your city is awarded the privilege to host an important international event, even if it’s the third most important international sporting event, you put in the effort to make sure that the city doesn’t look bad. What you did in regards to preparations for Sochi was downright unacceptable, and I doubt that people would want to visit your country based on the Sochi example.
I remember when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, everything was optimized to a tee. In case you forgot, the Olympics were a mere five months after the Terrorist Attacks on September 11th. The United States, as a nation wanted to make sure its own athletes, as well as its international athletes, were safe and comfortable. Again, may I remind you that five months before, we had lost more than 2500 people to terrorism?
Your job for the next two weeks is to protect and accommodate the athletes that have the honor to compete in your games. And you shouldn’t have an excuse for what can be viewed as a substandard experience. The United States could have said “Eh, who cares” after 9/11 and not given an effort in hosting the 2002 games, but because they wanted to show that they were strong, that they could overcome a huge national tragedy, they made it one of the more memorable Olympic games in history.
So again, Mr. President. I implore you. Make an effort. You wanted to promote your country, don’t make Sochi a punchline. You have two weeks to make sure that these Olympic games are a memorable one, for all the right reasons. Put some effort in, sir. Do what you have to in order to improve the quality of living there. Because if you can’t host the third most important international sporting event in the world, then why should FIFA trust you and your country to host the second most important international sporting event in the world?