A lesson plan to spare the Olympics from Sochi

OK, class, everyone who really wanted to go to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Olympics even before the recent deadly bombings in Volgograd, raise your hand.

I see you, President Vladimir Putin. Anyone else?

No? Then let’s see how we can get around the problem of having the Winter Games in a hard-to-reach locale with a subtropical climate, repression of gay rights, obscene spending (and related corruption), environmental despoilment and human rights abuses of its residents.

And, oh yes, apparently serious threats to disrupt the Games by nationalist insurgents — aka terrorists — from nearby Chechnya. (Not to mention Dagestan, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.)

The answer isn’t to cancel the Olympics. And it’s too late to move them en masse.

I have another idea:

Stage them — and the Paralympics — over the regularly scheduled time period in manageable pieces at some of the cities or countries that have been previous Winter Olympic hosts, many of which have World Cup competitions every year.

Yes, this would be like a series of isolated World Championships rather than the bring-the-world-together feeling of the Olympics. But I bet most of the athletes wouldn’t miss the overhyped camaraderie and would be much happier without worrying about the possibility of a bombing in Sochi.

Because 99 percent of the world consumes the Olympics via television, some people may not even notice the difference. Yes, there would be time zone issues, but those could be worked out.

And attendance in many of the new sites undoubtedly would be much better than it will be in Sochi.

To those who say this would be giving in to terrorists, my reply simply would be that it is, rather, an 11th-hour return to sanity after the misguided International Olympic Committee decision in 2007 to indulge Putin’s folly. This is how my 2014 Olympics would play out:

Men’s hockey in Canada, with medal games in Vancouver. NHL arenas will be available.

Women’s hockey in Lake Placid. It’s relatively near the Canadian border, and no one outside Canada and the U.S. cares about women mucking in the corners.

Figure skating in Tokyo, part of the one country where the sport still has a large and passionate fan base. Long track speedskating in Kearns, Utah, which has the fastest ice in the world.

Short track speedskating in Turin, Italy, as a sop to International Skating Union President Ottavio Cinquanta.

Curling in the United Kingdom. Never had a Winter Games, but it will take the curling stones back to their Scots roots.

Biathlon in Ruhpolding, Germany, the mecca of the sport. No going back to Garmisch, where Hitler had his retreat.

Nordic skiing in Lillehammer (cross-country) and Oslo (combined and jumping). What could be more Nordic than Norway?

Luge, skeleton and bobsled in Igls, Austria, a site used twice for the Olympics.

Alpine skiing at St. Moritz, Switzerland; Kitzbuhel, Austria; and Val d’Isere, France. Legendary courses for the sport.

Snowboarding at Chamonix, France.

Freestyle skiing at Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, to bring the Olympics back to the city that was host of my favorite Winter Games.

The opening and closing ceremonies can stay in Sochi. In lieu of athletes, the thousands of military who would be on hand can march into the stadium, which will be filled with all the friends of Putin who have gotten rich off the Games.

Is this a joke? No less so than the idea to give the 2014 Winter Olympics to Sochi in the first place.

Time to buy a ticket for Japan to cover figure skating.


Twitter @olyphil

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in Lake Michigan

    'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in Lake Michigan

    During an early morning jog along Lake Michigan with his wife and children Tuesday, John Corba spotted a man struggling in the water nearly 30 yards from the shore.

  • Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann watched the world change from behind his drum kit, shoveling coal in the wildly tribal rhythm section as the Dead went from San Francisco underground curio to ground-breaking indie outfit, then progenitor of the improvisation-based rock...

  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The three clichés that color every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half-over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to restaurant shift supervisors.

  • Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Unlike previous summers, UniStaff is experiencing a spike in job applicants at its Little Village location, a trend the branch manager says is tied to the city's minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Wednesday.