Two suicide bombings in Volgograd, Russia in the past week is not what the new International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach envisioned in his first couple of months in the job. But Bach is powerless along with the members of the International Olympic Committee in protecting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi or the 2016 Summer Games in Rio because no matter what Bach and the IOC delegates think, despite holding permanent observer status in the United Nations or having a flag, the IOC is just a sports organization.
Securing the Olympics has been a job that has been handled partially by the United States military since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The United States had more boots on the group protecting the Salt Lake City, Utah Olympic Games in February 2002 than in Afghanistan. The US heavily was involved in protecting the 2004 Athens, Greece Summer Olympics.
There has been some cooling down in the relationship between the United States and Russia over the past decade but the United States and Russia have agreed trio work together and secure the Sochi Games as well as anyone can hope.
The two suicide bombings in Volgograd seemingly have Russian President Vladimir Putin and the International Olympic Committee on edge.
Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is about 400 miles from Sochi. Russia has been fighting terrorist attacks from Chechen insurgents for years. Putin said he would "annihilate" the terrorists. More than 30 people were killed in the two bombings.
Russian has tweaked the IOC with a crackdown on gay and lesbian athletes, visitors and Russian citizens which has not helped the country's international standing politically or with the IOC. Russia also has not been able to stop terrorist attacks.
The IOC probably doesn't want to say this publicly, but the Olympics as a sporting event might be on the ropes if Sochi is not well protected. The 2014 Sochi Games is costing billions and is running a reported five times more than what was originally project or about $50 billion US instead of $10 billion.
Bach is out there given what amounts to pep talks trying to convince people Sochi will be an enjoyable experience. Bach said in a statement.
"We trust the Russian will deliver a safe and secure Olympic Winter Games for all athletes and all participants and we must ensure that nothing interferes with them realizing their full potential on the world's biggest sporting stage".
He wants Sochi to be "a demonstration of unity in diversity, not a platform for politics or division."
Bach is from Germany and he has to know that the Olympics stage is a platform for political grievances and protests. The 1936 Berlin Games, which then United States Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage called the finest ever, was staged despite the protests of more than a few people that Germany should not have held the Games because of Adolf Hitler and the persecution of Jews and Gypsies among others in the country.
The 1968 Mexico City Games featured the John Carlos-Tommie Smith black power salute. There was the terrorist attack in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. In 1976 African countries boycotted the Montreal Games because New Zealand sent a rugby team to play in apartheid South Africa.
The United States pulled out of the 1980 Moscow Games because of the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan along with many western nations. The Soviets and Warsaw Pact mentions skipped the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.
Sochi will be ringed by security for the 2014 sporting event. But Back, Putin and others have to wonder, how safe is the Sochi area? The Olympics is not just about competition and never has been and never will be.
Evan Weiner can be reached at email@example.com . His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365489 ) and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/americas-passion-how-coal/id595575002?m... ), From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/from-peach-baskets-to-dance/id636914196... ) and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/business-and-politics-of-sports-evan-wei... ) and reissue of the 2010 e-book The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/business-politics-sports-selection/id77... ) are available from e-book distributors globally