Dang it, Winter Olympics! You are making it extra hard to like you. As Olympics go, winter is always the disregarded stepchild. It’s the Loki to summer’s Thor, the bowel-activating Activia to summer’s Yoplait, the non-Beyonce Destiny’s Children to summer’s Beyonce, the synchronized swimming to summer’s regular swimming.
But they’re making themselves hard to like. Even without the concerns about security — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will enclose Sochi in a “ring of steel,” which does not sound all that secure, even as metaphors go — it seems like every day leading up to the games there’s been another case of foot inserted into mouth as far as it can possibly go.
Here are just five cringe-worthy moments from the lead-up to the winter games:
5) “If I had a daughter, I’d never let her jump — it’s too much hard labor. Women have another purpose — to have children, to do housework, to create hearth and home.” — Russian men’s ski jump coach, to Izvestia newspaper (thanks to Buzzfeed for the translation)
4) Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov tells the BBC that Sochi, a city of almost 400,000, has no gay people. “We just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.” (This is patently untrue, as the BBC reporter observes.)
3) “One can feel calm and at ease,” Putin said on January 17, asked about what gay visitors to the Sochi olympics could expect. “Just leave kids alone, please.” Putin insists on conflating homosexuality and pedophilia (an “odious canard,” as Mark Joseph Stern put it at Slate, that has offered a pretense for ramping up intolerance and homophobic violence).
2) “They (gays) can make propaganda about their sexual orientation among adults. But there is no need to involve children. I have already said this many times.” — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Kozak, on Thursday. So this continues to be an insinuation that Russian officials feel comfortable making. Ugh.
1) “We were told, ‘Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them.’ ” — Olga Melnikova, coordinating the rescue of Sochi’s stray dogs for the Oleg Deripaska-financed Good Will charity.
On a lighter but no less baffling notes, here, according to the Twitter feed of Canadian skateboarder Sebastien Toutant, is a sign that appears in the Sochi bathrooms.
— Sebastien Toutant (@SebToots) February 1, 2014
No fishing makes sense, I guess. I also like the determination you can read in every line of that figure squatting atop the toilet lid. But what’s going on in that last one, on the right? No playing with your tiny model of the Hindenburg blimp during your Riverdance practice?
Summer can’t come soon enough.