With nine months to go before the 2014 Winter Olympics, the biennial sport of Olympics-bashing has begun in earnest. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is being criticized for cost overruns and the other usual problems. And as always, the host country, this time Russia, is taking heat for cronyism, corruption, environmental concerns and construction delays.
But this time there is another, bigger set of worries. At several recent gatherings around the world, experts have wrung their hands publicly about how the XXII Winter Games pose the biggest security threat of any games in memory.
The Olympics, which will run from February 7th to the 23rd, are going to be held right in the middle of one of the world’s hottest conflict zones, the North Caucasus. Sochi, the host city, is a lovely resort town on Russia’s Black Sea coast. But the region around it is a cauldron of ethnic hatred and anti-Russian separatist movements. And then there is all of the organized crime, Islamist militancy and terrorism.