Sochi Olympics Watch #21

It’s game time. The iron fist has closed around Sochi.

In an effort to “place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” – one of the principles of Olympism – “(a)n army of 30,000 is deployed. A further 40,000 police and internal security troops lie in reserve. Missile launchers and tracking devices are commissioned. Air and naval units stand ready. On Tuesday this entire force was put on ‘combat alert’ for a month.”, writes the Guardian.

Since 2009 Common Sense and Whiskey’s Sochi Olympics Watch has been pointing out that Sochi and Grozny, ground zero in the vicious Chechen wars, are scarcely 250 miles apart. From March 2009:

“Today’s International Herald Tribune carries the following story: Chechen leader imposes strict Islamic code. Business Week/Spiegel points out that there have been six bomb attacks in Sochi proper over the past year, and four people have died.

The last Russian games were the American-boycotted 1980 Moscow summer Olympics. Perhaps the IOC decided that after 34 years, it was Russia’s turn again. We’ll see how it turns out, but the Olympic Committee’s wisdom at picking the Russian Caucasus looks a little dicey from here.”

With 34 deaths in Volgagrad associated with the Sochi games a month before they begin, I’d say the best the Olympic Committee can hope for from Vladimir Putin’s vanity project is relief, if it ends with no further violence.

(Whatever befalls these games, Putin picks up a little something.)

Big Sports just thinks funny. Stand by for World Cup Watch, Qatar 2022.

Sochi Olympics Watch #18

It’s just about game time. Under a hundred days. The Olympic flame is up in space without the flame. Good feelings are firmly in place, in a sort of former Soviet way. Just ask the Norwegian TV crew that was stopped by authorities on their pre-Olympics publicity tour. Six times.

Then there was that bus bombing.

Remember all those other winter Olympics? Vancouver, Lillehammer, Nagano, the cute little ones that cost in the low billions?

This one will cost over 50 billion dollars, more than any summer games, and where did all that money go? Can’t find most of it. Surprise!

Those old ones were all full of good feeling and snowmen and not a peep about jailing gay people. This one will be full of snow, even if they have to use last year’s. As to jailing gay people, let’s see. Everybody’s gonna talk about it.

But it’s okay. Y’all come, have a good time. Me and my boys is cool.



Sochi Olympics Watch #17


We all know about all that nasty corruption (2, 3) surrounding the most expensive ever $50 billion Sochi Olympics, now just four months away. We’ve heard how Sochi is only 300 miles from Grozny, about that £5 billion thirty mile road, about the whole Russian gay paranoia thing and how 2014 is turning into a Gulag Olympics, and darn it, now the Olympic flame keeps going out. The photo is a screen grab from Novosti, in which former Soviet world swimming champion Shavarsh Karapetyan gets a hand from an unidentified man with a cigarette lighter as he runs around the Kremlin in a nationally televised ceremony.

Here’s a look inside the factory that built the torches.

Meanwhile, writes The Guardian, “an IOC delegation praised the ‘magnificent’ venues and promised a ‘fabulous experience’.”

Pyongyang Spring

The DPRK opens up a little bit each August for the Mass Games, but there's no need to wait for your chance to visit this year. Spend €999, $1333 according to the currency converter on this page, and you can participate in the first annual North Korean Open golf tournament on a golf course near Pyongyand in April.


Trip includes visa, the tournament, return train travel from China, meals and four nights hotel. Handled by Lupine Travel

Incidentally, the Sun newspaper tells us that

"It is claimed North Korean leader Kim Jong Il opened the course in 1991 by shooting a world record 38 under par on his first ever round of golf. Jong-Il's round is famously said to have included eleven holes in one."