Tonight marks the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Throughout the years Opening Ceremonies are a time for nations from around the world to come together as one before spending the next two and a half weeks as bitter rivals where only three people in each event come away with the metallic prize that they all seek.
So while the next two weeks will be about hard fought competition and trying to secure one’s lifelong dream, tonight the athletes they can just be people enjoying the pomp and circumstance of the world stage.
The Opening Ceremony will feature music, dancing and the parade of Olympic teams from around the world.
The ceremony can also serve as a geography lesson for people watching who may have forgotten certain names of countries.
Another highlight of the ceremony of course is the lighting of the Olympic flame that will burn brightly over the festivities until the closing ceremony where the torch will be passed to the next host country.
While tonight should be all about the beauty and the magic of the Olympics, stories leading up to tonight’s ceremony have painted less than ideal conditions for those in competition and the media there to cover it.
From stories of unfinished accommodations to cruel treatment of stray dogs, there has been no shortage of media tweets and posts about the conditions in Sochi.
There are even reports of phones being hacked and showers being monitored through hidden cameras.
Of course the entire Olympic infrastructure was basically built from scratch for around $20 billion making it by far the most expensive Olympics venue build ever. And anytime that large of a project is undertaken there are bound to be shortcuts taken so the fact that a few things did not get down in time or the way one had hoped should not be a complete surprise.
As for the hacking of phones and the unwanted surveillance goes, I suppose the Olympic Host Committee wanted to give visitors the complete Cold War experience to go along with the games.
Even the venues that were completed in time and to code will have a short life in many cases as almost all Olympic Games venues built for the two weeks in the global spotlight will never be used again following the extinguishing of the Olympic flame.
With so much cost and so little to show for it after the games I have always wondered why countries spend so much effort and money to be an Olympic host city.
Sure there is the pride of saying that one hosted the Olympics but where is that pride after the venues start to crumble from neglect and the citizens are left to wonder whether the money could have been spent in better ways.
While I doubt that this will ever become the case having the Olympics in a central place year after year with a single set of venues would certainly be more economical than reinventing the wheel every two years.
But as long as there is a clout associated with hosting the games countries will continue to compete to be selected as a host city to then spend their billions of dollars on venues in the hopes of at least breaking even when all of the fans flock to see the games.
While some venues and accommodations failed to be 100 percent ready for the games to their credit NBC will do their best over the next two weeks to highlight the positives of the Olympic Games despite all of the negatives that have come to light in recent days.
After all NBC spends a lot of money on the Olympics so they have a vested interest in making sure people tune in to support their advertisers.
There will be countless human interest stories and time delayed coverage of events sprinkled along the prime time viewing hours. And yes there will also be stories about the lack of shower curtains or the toxic water with the do not use to bathe warnings.
I am sure that many of the journalists covering the games did not think they would be reporting games in a war zone type situation. Maybe instead of sending Bob Costas to the games NBC should have sent veteran war correspondents Wolf Blitzer and Peter Arnett since they are likely more used to reporting from places with no shower curtains and other amenities.
When all is said and done the lack of shower curtains and other creature comforts will not affect the performance from the athletes or the media members covering them.
In fact there could even be some people who have never seen a shower curtain so the lack of one is not a big deal.
But the fact that the issues are being brought up begs the question regarding what exactly was bought with that $20 billion investment in the games. For the answer to that I am sure there is a NBC report detailing it all.
I will likely watch the opening ceremony tonight and then tune out the rest of the Olympics and just follow the medal count online since I am not a fan of watching time delayed sports where the outcome is already known.
As far as Russia goes, I am scheduled to be there in May so I hope they find some shower curtains by then so I don’t have to bring my own.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Olympic sized Opening Ceremony snacks to make.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson