By Sydney Weil

On February 7, the world watched as the 22nd Winter Olympics opened in Sochi, Russia. However, in the weeks leading up to the event, the arrival of many controversies threatened to overshadow the games.

Russia recently passed discriminatory laws against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. The government ordered that all stray dogs in Sochi be killed. The lodging is not up to par. There is a threat of terrorism.

While all of these are important and are serious issues that need discussing, there is something else to remember. These are not the Russian Olympics. They are the Olympic Games that happen to be in Russia this year.

Yes, some of these controversies come up because they are tied directly to the Games, like the hotel issues and the wrongful killing of stray dogs (which has been stopped, by the way).  But, some of them would have come to international attention anyway, like the horrible laws against the LGBT community. These are things that deserve the attention and the outrage of the world.

But, the Olympics are about putting aside politics. They are about putting aside discrimination and coming together for two weeks to watch some of the world’s best athletes compete with each other. They are about putting differences aside and bonding as a world.  

The five interlaced rings of the Olympic flag are supposed to demonstrate the idea of coming together in competition.

The Olympic charter says, “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

As a world, we have a duty to respect these words and, by doing so, to respect the Olympic athletes, many of whom have trained for years and years and sacrificed a lot to get to these games.  

Sochi happened to be the city with the best bid for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. In 2016, the Summer Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the next Winter Olympics will be in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018.  

The athletes don’t get a say in where the Olympics will be. Their goal is just to do well enough to have a hope of attending.

The 22nd Winter Olympics came to a close on February 23. Some people decided to use these games as a way to show their anger about some of Russia’s politics. Well, they missed out.

They missed watching Russia dominate beautifully in the new team figure skating competition. They missed watching Bode Miller tie for bronze in the super-G and become the oldest Olympic alpine skiing medalist. They missed watching Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze get the exact same time and tie for gold in the women’s downhill. They missed watching Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton win the first two-man bobsled medal for the U.S. since 1952 when they won bronze. And they missed watching Charlie White and Meryl Davis skate perfectly to win the ice dancing gold.

The problems and the controversies surrounding these Olympic Games did not cloud the beauty and the awesomeness of these moments. I, for one, am glad I got to see them.