One would be hard-pressed to think of another Olympic Games that was getting as much negative press as opening day approached.
Just last week, Lady Gaga, political lightning rod that she is, suggested that the Sochi Games be boycotted over Russia’s anti-gay laws. This weekend, German President Joachim Gauck (it’s a ceremonial role mostly – Chancellor Angela Merkel does the heavy lifting) announced his boycott of the Games over Russia’s human rights record and their treatment of political opponents.
First Gaga, now Gauck. What’s gagoing on here?
Actually Gaga is not the first celebrity to speak up. Earlier this year, Lindsey Graham, US Senator and part-time male lesbian, suggested a boycott over Russia’s harbouring of NSA rascal Edward Snowden as well as their support of Syria’s Assad. British comedian Stephen Fry then wrote a sharply-worded open letter to the International Olympic Committee and British PM David Cameron, raising comparisons to Hitler and the need to also go the boycott route.
While this mixed bag of B-level boycott bleaters may not make a dent in the actual Games once they get underway, they are clearly dominating the headlines these days.
Instead of having articles written about some shiny new venues or the heroic efforts of the athletes heading into competition, these Games are so far being associated with less-PR-friendly words like spying, Hitler, anti-gay, and civil war.
Sochi’s organizers are going to need to pull off a public relations’ quadruple salchow to turn things around in the next two months.