Sochi — Who would ever pick Sochi, Russia as the site of the Winter Olympics, let alone for the Dog Catcher or Going Postal Olympics? For the terrorist bomber Olympics it might be just the place. Americans are warned not to leave the Olympic compound wearing their red, white and blue American flag uniforms and maybe not to leave the Olympic compound at all.
Well, that’s got to throw a damper on the whole thing. From what I read and hear, the city is a cesspool of poverty and human dislocation. The electricity comes on every other Thursday or sometimes on Mondays when nobody is looking. You can’t drink the water or flush the toilets or walk on the streets without being up to your ankles in mud, so they say.
Legendary sports columnist Frank Deford ripped Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular a new one on NPR Tuesday and then went after the American representatives on the International Olympic Committee. He called the whole decision to award Russia the Olympics a fraud and a bow to Russian corruption.
There’s even a rumor that someone is poisoning stray dogs in the city, lest they bother visitors, one must assume. And then there’s the Chechen terrorists who it’s now said have multiple “Black Widows” in their legions to be suicide bombers in and around the games. Black Widows are the widows of slain Chechen fighters who have died at the hands of Russian troops either randomly or during invasions of their country. Or they might be widows of Muslim men who have died in other conflicts throughout the Middle East. Because of strictures against strip searching Muslim women, they are reportedly the ideal and convenient carriers of suicide bombs.
Black widows (spiders that is) are known for killing their mate after mating. Why these women are called Black Widows is a bit of a stretch. They aren’t killing their mates; they’re killing a bunch of strangers, or at least that’s the theory. Go figure, but it’s a catchy term. It’s also reported that dozens of Black Widows are now under house arrest in various parts of Russia to keep them from participating in the Olympics in the “who can kill the most people events.” Probably not the most American way of dealing with potential bad apples, but maybe that’s OK in this instance.
Now, I would be the last person to suggest that Chechens don’t have completely valid reasons to hate Russians. They do, and I’m on board with that. Knocking off Italians or Austrians or Koreans or Americans seems a bit off the mark to make their case though. If I were a top Chechen and wanted to make my point, I wouldn’t bother with the Olympics where all the security is. I’d go for something up in Moscow or St. Petersburg where all the security isn’t. But that’s just me thinking outside the box.
New reports on Wednesday said that people should be careful about traveling on direct flights to Russia because of possible bombs in toothpaste and or cosmetic tubes. Good grief. That suggests that “terrorists” are actually outside Russia putting toothpaste bombs in airplanes. Well, who is the enemy here? It’s certainly not Brazil or Mexico or Indonesia. They don’t have anything to do with Chechen liberation issues. Blowing up Americans is always a good public relations move in the Muslim world, I guess, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense relative to Chechnya and its beef with Russia.
Frankly, if I was there, I think I’d like to have the Seattle Seahawks defense around. I’d feel much safer.
I do hope that the games that started yesterday will go off without a hitch. There’s got to be good will and international cooperation involved that maybe can’t be developed any other way than the Olympics. That’s too bad, but I guess it’s what we have and will have for the foreseeable future.
On a brighter note, I’d like to welcome my second grandson, Charlie, to the world. Charlie was born at 1:30 Tuesday morning with all parts in place and working as far as we know. Mother Sadie, father Aaron and brother Thomas are all doing well.
Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.