Good news, figure skating fans: The Winter Olympics are starting this week in the Russian city of Sochi! You can look forward to two weeks of people in tight jumpsuits spinning and sleds being used for things that would blow Charles Foster Kane's mind. Oh, and also, soul-killing clandestine bullshit.
See, all Olympics have unexpected horrors they don't want you to know about, but this being Russia, they just had to take it to another level.
#5. Sochi's Mayor Says the City Is Magically Gay-Free
The big controversy over the last several months leading up to the games has been Russia's anti-gay laws and fears that homosexual athletes and visitors would be harassed or even jailed while in the country. But that's all been smoothed over, right?
Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images
Well, while Russian president/Legion of Doom member Vladimir Putin is trying to downplay that whole "Russia is super homophobic" thing with the tried and true "But I have gay friends!" defense, the mayor of the city where the games are being held had another strategy. Sochi can't be homophobic, he says, because no gays exist there. Homosexual impulses have been magically vanished from the entire 340,000-inhabitant city, because they're "not accepted here" and "we do not have them." Never mind the fact that there are actually a few gay clubs in Sochi.
Meanwhile, Putin has reassured gay visitors that they'll be fine as long as they "leave children alone." See? The government isn't anti-gay, they just think all homosexuals are pedophiles.
#4. Russia Is Expanding Its Borders and Kicking People Out to Make Space for the Olympics
Of course, every Olympics involves building a bunch of new venues (many of which will be left to rot after the games are over). To make room for that stuff in Sochi, they had to displace a few homeowners (around 2,000) who were told one day in 2012 that they'd have to sell their property to the government to make the Olympic dream come true. But maybe "sell" should be in quotes there, as some families say they were simply kicked to the street without getting anything from the authorities: no money, no place to stay, not even free Sochi tickets.
"You got front seats to the demolition derby. Quit bitching."
Meanwhile, Russia's neighbors in Georgia say Putin illegally expanded his territory into the autonomous region of Abkhazia to "prevent terrorism," which involves forcing the people who live there to carry ID cards and put up with Russian tanks at their doorstep. Well, that should quell any violent impulses a potential terrorist might have, right?
#3. Shady Contractors Are Using the Olympics to Get Rich
The reason the 2014 Winter Games are being held in Sochi is because in 2007 the Russians outbid all of the other countries seeking to host them with a staggering $12 billion budget proposal. Seven years later, those $12 b's have somehow turned into over $50 billion, making these the most expensive Olympics ever ... while including way fewer events.
So what happened? Soviet-esque government corruption. Critics claim that Putin hired longtime buddies as contractors, thus allowing them to artificially inflate their requests for funding. One contractor, Arkady Rotenberg, who happens to be Putin's childhood friend and judo sparring partner, was issued $4.5 billion for construction projects, probably because he's the best at fake-losing to Putin's bear-wrestling jabs. For that much money, you'd think Sochi's streets would end up paved in solid diamonds, but just two weeks before the events, this is what the Olympic Village looked like:
#2. Sochi Will Be the Most Unfun Olympics Ever for Visitors
For all the money Russia spent, they might not even be able to fill the stands. With just a few weeks to go before the Olympics, only 70 percent of the tickets have been sold (for comparison, 97 percent of the tickets in the Vancouver Olympics were sold, and that was in Vancouver). Add that to the Russian people's characteristic don't-give-a-fuck quality, and these might be the blandest Olympics ever.
It probably doesn't help that you can't fly to Sochi itself. Tourists have to fly into an adjacent city and then take a train -- where they are most likely to be attacked by terrorists.
Wait, did we forget to mention that? Yeah, there's a looming terrorist threat, due to the date and location of the games. That's kind of what happens when you set the Olympics right near the Caucasus Mountains, and on the 150th anniversary of an ethnic cleansing (read: motherfucking massacre) performed there by the Russians.
#1. Local Authorities Are Treating Animals Like Shit, People Like Animals
Last year, controversy arose when Sochi authorities announced that they would rid the streets of stray pets before the Olympics started by rounding them up and murdering them. They relented from this due to the bad publicity, then apparently turned around and did it anyway while no one was looking. They also haven't hesitated to abuse other species, like whales (two captured orcas will be displayed during the games) or, you know, humans.
Yeah, the same construction workers who were making all those fancy sites we talked about earlier say that when they complained about being paid less than half of what they had been promised, police officers beat them with crowbars, sexually assaulted them, and forced them to confess to crimes they didn't commit.
He would plead guilty to trying to eat police property (nightsticks).
And when the construction was over? Then hundreds of migrant workers were rounded up for deportation, with officials blatantly lying and making up charges. Maybe they couldn't clean up the streets from all those filthy dogs, but at least they got rid of all the brown people.
So let's all cheer for the Olympics, and celebrate the gold medal champion in figure lube racing or whatever that shit's called. Hoorah!
The third part of XJ's epic science-fiction novel is out now on Amazon. The first $0.99 novella can be found here, with Part 2 out here. Or leave a review and get a free copy! Poke him on Twitter and follow him on Facebook.