The 2014 Winter Olympics, opening tonight in Sochi, Russia, is the most expensive Olympics ever. Reports about the catastrophic environmental damage caused during the construction of the games, and Russia's poor human rights record, have overshadowed what should be a joyous international event.
Commenting on the opening of the Sochi Olympics Reinhard Bütikofer, Co-Chair of the European Green Party (EGP) said:
“According to local NGOs, activists and press reports, the environmental damage caused by the transformation of the area has been unparalleled in the history of the modern Olympic. The area around Sochi is a UNESCO's World Heritage site, but organisers have turned a blind eye as it has been destroyed during the construction of the games – it is nothing short of vandalism. The Olympic spirit requires environmental responsibility, and being caretakers for future generations. Games that destroy soil, water and air can never unite people. The Russian government must do everything they can to repair the damage this vanity project has caused.”
Monica Frassoni, Co-Chair of EGP added:
“The spirit of the Olympic Games is meant to unite people. But, this spirit is being undermined by the Russian government, whose habitual abuse of human rights and their treatment of their citizens has shocked the world. Russia's appalling record regarding LGBTI people is of huge concern. The discriminatory, homophobic law banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" equates homosexuality with paedophilia - which is simply absurd. Under Putin, homophobic violence has become acceptable. LGBTI people must not and should not live in fear. The international community must be clear: even when the games are over we should not take our eyes off these events.”