The Olympics is one of the few occasions where young, fit, passionate representatives from many nations gather in a single location without declaring war. Yet, every four years, some new political issue crops up surrounding the games. For instance, this year, the winter games are plagued with threats of terrorism and warranted backlash against Russia’s anti-gay policies. In 1968, the problem du jour was a protest against the lack of civil rights in the United States, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos each did the Black Power salute at the awards podium. One of my high school coaches was a silver medalist at the 1968 Games in New Mexico and he attested to the fact that political tensions were high. As a black man, he was asked to boycott the Olympics. He refused, believing that competing and proving his worth on an international stage made a more valuable statement.

The Munich Massacre was a far more severe example of political tension. Palestinian terrorists captured and then brutally murdered 11 Israeli coaches and athletes during the 1972 Munich Games. The Munich police were underprepared and the German army was not permitted to maneuver during peacetime ( ). In this case, many of the events were misreported in the media, creating confusion and an inaccurate portrayal of facts. For example, it was first reported that all attackers had been killed and that the hostages were safe, when in reality, all the hostages had been killed. Media has the power to increase or muffle political tensions and incidents.

Since more people than ever have access to the media, more people are influenced than ever before. I think part of the reason the political issues of the Sochi Olympics are so hotly contended is due in part to the media coverage of the issues. There are certainly biased news sources, and some people are getting their information that way. The Olympics are intended to entertain but, they are inextricably intertwined with politics and viewers should be sure to get the whole story from varied news sources to prevent tensions and false impressions. Keep the spirit of friendly and wholesome competition in the Games, without allowing them become overshadowed with political issues.

Fans at the 2014 Sochi Games
Fans at the 2014 Sochi Games (

Headlines depicting the horrors at the Olympics in Munich
Headlines depicting the horrors at the Olympics in Munich