The 2014 Winter Olympics officially start with the opening ceremony tonight. While the athletic feats will surely be impressive and the two weeks will have their share of melodrama, I am giving Sochi 2014 a miss.

I don’t think it takes much of any explanation why I will avoid these games. The list is too long to start. The US$51 games have become a magnificent case study of corruption gone wild; the country has become a human rights cesspit, from the jailing of a punk band to the absurd law eviscerating any gay rights; then there was the latest cluster, the acceleration of killing stray dogs as the games drew closer. Then of course, the environmental problems in part due to hosting a winter games in a subtropical city. Thankfully, there will be some light moments with the @SochiProblems Twitter handle and continued cries of journalists whose rooms are not ready and if they are, have brown water running out of the tap.

The Olympics have always had their unseemly side, but the graft and abuse of what is supposed to be Vladimir Putin’s showcase is an embarrassment. The forced evictions and human rights abuses, and the overwhelming graft, should have given the world enough of a reason to skip this event. The games should have been moved, and failing that—boycotted—to send a message hosting such an international event should bring some measure of transparency and integrity. The International Olympic Committee should have seen this coming: recent Olympic cities Vancouver or Turin could have hosted these games in a pinch.

Of course the argument then comes up: “Why should the athletes be punished? What about their dreams?”

Why should the needs of a few athletes matter at all, when you see the suffering by an exponentially larger number of people who have been tossed aside as greed and cruelty festered? What about the people who lost their homes? What about those who have toiled at construction sites for extremely low wages? And of course, what about those who have been jailed, tortured and ostracized because of a horrific gay rights law passed to “protect children?”

The idea these Winter Games in Sochi are carrying on is an appalling one to me. So I am giving them a miss.

But I do look forward to PyongChang 2018. The Koreans will put on a show. And I doubt we will see anything close to the farce that has marked Sochi and Russia hosting of the games. Unfortunately, the World Cup that same year . . . will be in Russia.

[Image credit: Wikipedia]

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.