Debate: should U.S. atheltes have competed?

By Noah Salzberg, PUblic Relations Manager

The Olympics are a storied sporting event, with participants from around the world. It is the pinnacle of all athletic achievement, a place where history is made and where legends are born. Despite its outstanding tradition, many United States citizens supported a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia due to controversy surrounding recent Russian legislature, something that is petty and wrong.

This past June, Russian president Vladimir Putin enacted a law that banned the propaganda to minors of nontraditional sexual relations. Despite the stir this has caused in the US, a boycott is not the answer, and the US made the right decision by attending the winter Olympics.

If the US had boycotted the Olympics, it would have been disrespectful to the host country. Although some Americans are agitated by their anti-homosexual laws and argued that Russia need not be respected, it would not have been right of the US to ignore all the effort the government of Russia put into preparing for the Olympics.

According to a Feb. 10 Washington Post article, the Russian government spent an estimated $51 billion in preparation for the Olympics. That is more than the amount that was spent for every past Winter Olympics combined and is $10 billion more than the most expensive Olympics ever: the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

By boycotting the games, we would have deprived Russia of its opportunity to gain revenue and denied them the post-Olympics benefits that most Olympic hosts experience, such as increased tourism.

The Olympics is also not about politics. It is a time for athletes around the world to come together to embrace the spirit of competition. To bring politics into the Olympics would be a defamation of the Olympic creed and of its purpose of bringing countries of the world together peacefully to engage in athletic competition.

Furthermore, a boycott of the Olympics would have also deprived U.S. athletes of the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.

If the US had boycotted the Olympics, Olympic athletes would have been stripped of their opportunity to compete, which for many has been a lifelong dream and commitment.

Proponents of the boycott say that by boycotting the Olympic Games, the United States would have been practicing human-rights advocacy. However, a boycott of the games would not have been effective. Even if the United States decided to boycott the Sochi Olympics, Russian laws would not have changed. Despite the United States’ global influence, a boycott made by the US likely would not have any significant effect on Russian legislature.

Many proponents of the boycott also say that there is a lack of sufficient security staff at the Olympics. However, this notion is completely false.

According to a Feb. 9 article from The Wall Street Journal, roughly 40,000 security outfit surround the city, creating what some may call a “ring of steel” around the city with checks around the perimeter of Sochi. Fans also are required to show their passports, photo identification, and the Olympic badge they are given at the entrances.

The United States also sent a message by sending its athletes to the Olympics. They let it be known to the world that terrorists cannot control our lives. If the United States was not to send its athletes, it would have been a sign of weakness and submission to those who threatened us. The United States, by sending its athletes, came across as strong and defiant towards terrorism, an attitude that every country in the world should take.

A boycott made by the United States of the Sochi Olympics was not necessary. It was a great thing that the US should sent its athletes to Russia in hopes of winning gold.