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Retweet-Driven Mockery Trend Casts Shadow Over #Sochi 2014
February 6, 2014 10:41

Photo Credit: ‏@mattgutmanABC (Matt Gutman)
Making fun of the Olympic hosts has long been the pastime of journalists. But while previously they were forced to prune their verbose chatter into the short format of daily newspaper articles, the boom of social networks like Twitter has greatly helped them in venting their pent-up emotions. It has now almost turned into an Olympic sport – the more merciless you lambaste the hotels and venues, the more retweets and followers you get.
This doesn’t mean that #Sochi doesn’t have any problems. I’m sure there are plenty of them, especially because the majority of the facilities are brand new.
The point I’m trying to make is: the scope of the media buzz doesn’t always reflect the size of the problems on the ground. It often gets blown out of proportion. When ridiculing someone in school becomes a trend, it’s hard for others not to follow it.
To prove my point, let’s look at an unflattering account by the Washington Post ahead of the 2012 London Olympics. Entitled ‘As London Olympics loom, so do problems’, a piece by Anthony Faiola (published on July 17, 2012) focuses almost completely on the negative side.
“Olympic organizers are coming under fire over bungled security staffing and other issues that have prompted the British media and opposition lawmakers to already declare the event a “fiasco,” the US paper said.
The author quoted Kerron Clement, a U.S. 400-meter Olympic hurdler, tweeting: “athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please.”and, “Um, so we’ve been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London.”
What would be your sentiment after reading this:
·         “Heathrow is notorious for its long immigration lines”
·         “It’s a humiliating shambles for the country, isn’t it?”
The National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, wasn’t soft on the London Games organizers, either. In a piece called ‘Five Olympic-sized problems plaguing London’ (published July 26, 2012), Sean Fitz-Gerald expressly takes revenge against The Guardian that a story during the Vancouver Olympics under a headline: “Vancouver Games continue downhill slide from disaster to calamity.”
·         the security situation has already been called into question,”
·         “still hurdles to overcome”,
·         “Immigration staff at Heathrow Airport, the English transportation hub, had been threatening to walk off the job on Thursday,”
·         “Cleaners working in the London Underground, the city’s oft-maligned subway system, are planning to work-to-rule on Friday,”
·         “Taxi drivers have also voiced displeasure at the reduction in lanes available for regular use around the city.”
Sean Fitz-Gerald complained that the opening ceremony will start too “late for many athletes, including those from Canada”.
Now, if we go earlier, back to the Vancouver Games, here’s a British perspective by The Guardian’s Alexandra Topping (published on 19 February, 2010).
“From worries about the lack of snow, dangerous conditions, ticket cancellations and security breaches, the games have been plagued with problems from the outset,” ran the article.
Summing up, it appears that taking a swipe at the hosts has become an Olympic tradition, with social media offering a fast-delivery channel for reporters and visitors.
It’s fun but don’t complain when all the world’s media are going to descend on your country next time and voice their discontent.

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Sochi Olympic Games 2014 Sochi 2014    

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