Sochi Winter Olympics coverage ‘insulting’


Felix Loch

GREAT MOMENTS: Felix Loch, of Germany, celebrates winning the gold medal during the Men’s Luge Singles.

The Sochi Winter Olympics opened on Saturday. Did you notice?

If you watched the 6 o’clock news on TV3 like I did, it was briefly mentioned in the story about how one of the Olympic rings in the opening ceremony didn’t open properly and was quickly followed by the phrase “the most expensive Olympics ever”.

The next item on the bulletin was about the amount of security at the Games.

Oddly, it started with the news that the Games were the most expensive in history and went on to tell us about how the terrorist threats and unfinished hotels must be embarrassing to Vladimir Putin as he, spending $30 billion let us not forget, tries to show off his country to the world.

This is pretty much the same story I’ve seen on the news every day for the past two weeks.

Sometimes they will add a story about Russia being anti-gay, occasionally there will be footage of Putin doing something embarrassing, but usually it’s the unfinished hotels and security threats.

Seldom will there be anything good said about the Sochi Olympics.

I’m not overly fussed about the Winter Olympics. I hope our athletes do well obviously but it’s not really my thing.

That said, I do appreciate and respect the effort the athletes have to put in to get there.

For most it would be a lifelong dream and I think they would be pretty insulted that something so important to them is being used mainly as Russia-bashing for a lot of the media.

This isn’t new of course, the 2008 Beijing Olympics had CGI fireworks, lip-syncing and censorship. The Rio de Janeiro Olympics are two years away but there have already been multiple stories on building issues, gang issues and dealing with the homeless population.

I’m not saying these aren’t issues worthy of raising and I’m not naive enough to expect there to be no politics involved in such a global event. But it does seem the assignment given to reporters these days is go to the Games and find dirt rather than something inspirational.

Maybe that’s a sad indictment of how the media works today, or worse, maybe it’s a sad indictment of what people want to see on the news these days.

The Games started in earnest on Sunday so let’s hope the focus changes.

Let’s hope dreams are made.

Let’s hope New Zealand does well, but above all, let’s hope the $30 billion was money well spent – they are the most expensive Games of all time you know.

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