In case you’ve missed the numerous ads on NBC, the Olympics are coming up! A time for international cooperation and competition, the Olympics serves as one of the largest international events (if not the largest) across the globe, bringing thousands of athletes and thousands of spectators to enjoy some friendly competition between countries.
If only it was just friendly conflict that would pervade in Sochi. The conflict, however, moves beyond what country is the best at snowboarding or bob sledding or whether Canada can beat the U.S. at Hockey: it’s about warring factions and the desire to take lives and make a point.
The 2014 Winter Olympics are set to take place in Sochi, Russia, a city in the Caucasus Mountain region that has been home to violence and extremist-terrorist activities for quite a while. The area is in dispute, the Russian forces quarreling with the native Islamic people over governance and ruling of their region. With recent terrorist activities in the region, most notably the suicide bombings in Volgograd at mass transit facilities, as well as the continued threat of terror in the region, many individuals and teams are taking extra security measures- and worrying about what may happen or if the threats are credible.
The threat is legitimate, according to security expert Bill Rathburn, who told Yahoo! News: “it’s not a matter of whether there will be some incident, it’s just a matter of how bad it’s going to be.” Individuals believed to be the suicide bombers from the Volgograd attacks made a chilling statement to those coming to the Olympics: “We’ve prepared a present for you and all tourists who’ll come over…If you will hold the Olympics, you’ll get a present from us for the Muslim blood that’s been spilled.” The U.S. Department of State has even gone so far as to issue a Travel Alert for the region, encouraging U.S. citizens to “remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times.”
The people of the world are forced to face a difficult conundrum: whether continue on with the plans for the Olympics at the risk of a violent attack, or give into the threats of these extremists. In either case, however, the terrorists get what they want and win.
The goal of terrorism is always to get a reaction. If the terrorists can’t get a reaction in one way, they will continue to try more ways to elicit a reaction- this is simply the nature of the beast. Hypothetically speaking, if the Olympics were for some reason called off or if numerous individuals removed Sochi and the Olympics from their itineraries, the terrorists would still not cease their violent actions. If anything, they would be encouraged to do more violence, as they would see that the governments of the world fear their activities and will cave to their demands.
It is because of this that the Olympics must go on.
We must not show fear against the terrorists, but rather we must continue on with our daily lives. If we don’t, these evil individuals and their organizations gain merit and will continue to wreak havoc across the globe without impending retaliation. Lack of fear, however, does not mean a lack of vigilance. The global community and the International Olympic Committee must employ efforts and resources, as they have been, to both prevent the attacks from occurring and show the terrorists that we will not let them win.
It is only by continuing the Olympics that we can defeat and overcome the stranglehold terrorists have placed on our world and culture by showing them that they do not control our lives and our societies. While the athletes exhibit their sense of international cooperation through their respective events, it’s up to the governments of the world to show their sense of international cooperation to ensure that evil does not prevail.
By combining these actions and not fearing these individuals and organizations who have the most base desires at heart, good can prevail and can make a statement that will be understood in every country without translation: terrorists will not win.
Hank Prim | Hillsdale College | @HankPrim