I’m not a sports fan, but I love the Olympics. All of the excitement, seeing all of the different countries competing.

This year, though, I have mixed feelings. I love that it’s in Russia and that my children get a glimpse of the beauty of Russia when they watch. There is so much to love about the country of Russia. But, on the other hand,  this will be all that some Americans ever know about Russia. That, and maybe a few “in Soviet Russia…” jokes. Having all eyes on Russia, but paying attention to something completely unrelated to the important issues leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Here’s my abbreviated list of why I can’t just enjoy these Olympics:

  1. You’re probably aware of #sochiproblems, like unsafe tap water, not being able to flush TP, or a hotel without a lobby. Now, take a few minutes to read about orphan problems. Same country, no coverage. Dilapidated and unsanitary living conditions, which are the reality of the tiniest, precious human beings.
  2. Maybe you’ve heard that you can adopt one of the dogs roaming the Russian streets. You know who you can’t adopt (unless you are from Italy or a former Soviet country)? One of the 650,000 Russian orphans. Many of these children bonded with American parents who were unable to bring them home due to the Russian adoption ban.Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.04.38 PM
  3. While the Olympics might make it seem like all of the countries can play nice, Ukraine’s future still hangs in the balance between Russia and the European Union and the protests in Ukraine continue.  We’ll see how Putin treats Ukraine when the Olympics are over.
    Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.08.48 PM
  4. Apart from #sochiproblems, the Olympic facilities look beautiful, but please, let’s not think about the people who built them. Despite the $51 billion dollar price tag, those who worked on the facilities were lucky to get paid at all.
    Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.10.36 PM
  5. Despite Russia’s presentation of itself as a progressive, successful country, their citizens still lack basic freedoms, such as the freedom of speech, such as banning gay “propaganda” or the freedom of the press, such as the creation of “Russia Today” and the shutting down of Ria Novosti.

It hardly seems right to point a finger at Russia while my own country is admittedly far from perfect, but I feel that it’s important to understand what’s really wrong in Russia, beyond their lack of Chobani yogurt and shower curtains. So, while you’re enjoying the Sochi games, please take a few minutes to remember those who are neglected, those who are bullied and those who have been exploited in the same beautiful country.

6 thoughts on “#sochiproblems”

  1. in Russia everything is OK. we are not responsible for Ukraine. Russia is not against gays, but against gay parades and pedofelii. children are not allowed to adopt America and the French – this is politics. children pity. but Russia is not so bad. all your media exaggerate. I live in Russia all my life, but these shells and holes in the walls have not seen! in remote villages can be. I love watching your family. and very worried about the children who remain in orphanages. Russian mom struggling with this law too. but in our country is not so bad. Do not believe everything you read on the Internet about Russia and they say on TV. I do not believe a lot about America, what they write on the internet is bad. please more good!

    1. Анастасия, I totally agree. We should not believe everything that the media says in either country. I know not all orphanages or children’s hospitals have holes in the walls, but unfortunately, many do, in Russia and in other countries. $51 billion USD was spent on the Olympic games, while many orphanages are in such conditions. It is not only the French and Americans who cannot adopt Russian children– it is many other countries as well. I would be curious to know your understanding of the situation in Ukraine. Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

  2. I am ashamed for my english, but I’ll try. about Ukraine. there Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine. in eastern Ukraine do not like Russian. and all the riots are taking place there. our relative in Ukraine says that people pay money so they go to these meetings, around 100 $ per day. also has hired hooligans who pay money for the fire, police beating. All this is politics and this affects peaceful people of Kiev, who do not give to live in peace. Russia is trying to do at the Swamp area, but our government will not allow it. and thank them for that. about $ 51 billion. This money is invested not only in the Olympic Games and the development of our resort, our trenerovochnyh bases, which in Russia is very small. our athletes train in Russia is not basically. orphanages receive per month per child for 3500. in children’s homes is another problem, it is unprofitable to send their children. prospective parents sometimes have to fight for a child. that’s sad. I love to watch over your life, the life of Gus. I remember back in the child’s home in Moscow. very good kid and happy for Gus. you fellows.

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