A Controversial Olympics

The triumphs were seemingly overshadowed by the controversies during this year’s Winter Olympics. From the positive drug tests to the believed violation of human rights, numerous controversies and corruptions have come out on top for this year’s Olympic Games.

Kamila Valieva, a 15 year old ice skater from Kazan, Russia, is one of the main people of discussion recently. On December 25 of last year, Valieva took a drug test that came back positive for Temozolomide, a drug banned from the Olympics that increases blood flow to the heart and is believed to help athletes with endurance. Although the test had been taken in December, the results were only released on February 8, after she had already competed and won gold. This news upset many viewers and athletes of the Olympics. The IOC, International Olympic Committee, then decided to cancel the medal ceremony where Valieva would have been awarded her medal and decide later who would receive the gold medal for the competition, a decision that may potentially take months to agree upon. 

In June, Sha’Carri Richardson, a 21 year old American sprinter, was suspended from running after she admitted to smoking weed after the death of her biological mother. Richardson was banned from running in competition for a month after she had accepted to participate in the treatment program, which reduces the suspension from three months to one month. Conversely, Kamila Valieva immediately appealed her suspension to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, and within 24 hours they accepted the appeal, allowing her to continue to compete. Many people believe that this is a very clear double standard that is unfair, and is potentially rooted in racism.

Many people have found an issue with the choice of one of the torch bearers in the opening ceremony. Dinigeer Yilamujiang is a cross country skier who shared the honor of lighting the cauldron this year. Yilamujiang is part of the Uyghur (pronounced we-gur) minority in China, a group that has been largely oppressed in China. China has been condemned for detaining an estimated one million Uyghurs and holding them in mass internment camps, forcing them to work and denounce their Muslim religion, beliefs, and their culture. People have interpreted the choice of Yilamujiang as the torch bearer as China’s way of disguising their treatment of the Uyghur people.

The controversies during this year’s Olympic Games seem to have taken the spotlight away from the athletes, the major focus of the event. Many athletes have accomplished amazing things during the games, and many ‘firsts’ have been achieved. Fayik Abdi became Saudi Arabia’s first Winter Olympian; Takeuchi Tomoka became the first Japanese woman to compete in Winter Olympics; Claudia Pechstein is the oldest woman to compete in the Olympics, being 49 years old. Additionally, Timothy LeDuc has made history as the first openly non-binary Olympian to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Many people were left feeling bittersweet about this year’s Winter Olympics. Controversies were abundant, and are still ongoing. But, many have tried to refocus the attention onto the great athletes that competed this year. There is no denying that a multitude of milestones have been reached by these talented athletes.