Arabs dust off your snow boots! The Middle East goes to the Sochi Winter Olympics
Some might be still trying to get their heads around the new place on the map that has come to our sporting attention -- in the form of Olympic host 'Sochi'...others are interested in the line-up of athletes as the global competition spirit sets in. Athletes from a record-breaking 88 countries are set to compete in Sochi, the first Olympic Games held in the Russian Federation since the 1991 breakup of the USSR. The number of worldwide viewers will also shatter records as the games can be watched on laptop or TV, and now on smartphones and tablets via new apps that place the sporting action in the palm of your hand! Continue reading below »
Last Sunday, the International Olympic Committee released the final list of nations participating in the Sochi Games, which opens Friday, 7 February. Want to see who’s competing from the Middle East and its regional and Mediterranean neighbors (so renowned for their winter sports as they are!)?
Since the the official website for the Sochi Games goes in for the traditional geographical demarcations, drawing the lines by continents, the “Middle East” per se doesn't really get a look in. Countries are split among five continents (excluding Antarctica, whose occupants would score gold if “keeping warm” was an event). Middle Eastern nations are instead palmed off into Africa or Asia or Europe. Al Bawaba says NYET to THAT!
Cyprus, Lebanon, Iran, Israel, Morocco and Turkey will all be represented in this year’s games, coverage of which is already veering off specific sports to broader security issues. Early news reports alerted to a so-called “Black Widow” terrorist attack stemming from Chechnya, the epicenter of Islamic terrorism in Russia.
In an interview with the UK Business Times, mathematical physicist Dr Gordon Woo, self-described “calculator of catastrophes”, said, “Because of the history between the Russians and the Chechen people who splintered to form the Caucasus Emirate, Sochi is a prime target for terrorism.”
The Games are also occurring at a tense period marked by heightened confrontation between the US and Russia and an ongoing protest movement in Ukraine. And don’t get us started on Russia's controversial laws on homosexuality. (Gay rights protests have been organized in 19 cities around the globe, with activists seeking to persuade sponsors of the event to speak out in support of the LBGT agenda).
Insha’Allah, for the next two weeks, everyone behaves!
Let’s hope that camaraderie and the values of the Olympic ideal prevail, celebrating the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. Olympic marketing is usually most histrionic within host countries, but subdued local support may prevail due to cultural mores in a conservative region of Russia, in the Krasnodar Krai district.
Let the winter games begin and may the warmth of the Middle East
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