Just wanted to drop a quick note to say thanks for having us over. I brought my kids along for the Olympics, and, while we never actually left our living room, we sure did enjoy our visit! After two weeks in Sochi, we’re not sure what to do with ourselves now. We had a great time overall, but I really wanted to take a few minutes to tell you why.
Everybody is safe and sound! After all the worry and fret leading up to the games, your virtually invisible security net pulled off a miraculous gold medal. There was a time when we would have questioned reports coming out of Russia as being somewhat muted in your favour. But with social media being what it is, and with everyone in sight having access to the Internet and a cell phone, we heard nothing of any kind of threat here on the outside. So, while I’m sure there was ‘something’, our athletes, representatives, and journalists felt safe and comfortable the entire time they were in your care. I hope you know how much that is appreciated, if not said.
The sport events were flawless! Venues were state-of-the-art and beautifully designed. The special effects, site lines, and drone coverage were exemplary. From our televised and cyber viewpoints, there is no argument that you surpassed all expectations for a high-quality, polished, memorable competitive experience. If this factor is the ‘compulsory’ portion of the program, you scored a perfect 10!
You showed the world your heart! Your opening and closing ceremonies were fabulous. I’ve heard the odd comment that there were a few of your more regrettable historical details conspicuously missing from your presentations. To which I respond, “Really? Who in their right mind would flash their dirty laundry to the world?” The fine line one would have to walk to be able to include the less favourable details while conveying the earnest remorse necessary to alleviate all possible resentments would be far too precarious. What you did show us – your music, your dance, your art, architecture, and history – was fascinating, exhilarating, and moving. It was wonderful to meet your ‘people!’
You kept your word. About the gay thing. Regardless of where you stand on LGBTQ rights and acceptance, you said you would avoid any conflict over the matter while we all visited, and you did, even with most of the rest of the world provoking you and waving rainbow flags in your face. I have to respect that. But on the flip side, I hope that you were able to see the world’s reaction to your stance on the whole issue, and can allow your open hearts to open your minds toward a tolerance that wasn’t there before. I hope we were able to change your minds about others as much as you were able to change so many of our minds about you.
Turns out, you’re human. With a sense of humour. The world cringed at the opening ceremony when the fifth ring didn’t open. There were Internet memes and fake reports that the guy responsible for the flub was found dead the next morning. Joking aside, we all kind of expected something along those lines. But when you made fun of the gaffe at the closing ceremony, the world fell in love with you. You’re funny. Who knew?! Add to that the reports of unfinished hotel rooms, a touch of bad weather, and the unexpected and unfortunate elimination of the Russian Men’s Hockey Team, and it turns out we could be friends!! I think back to the pressure-packed choreography of the Beijing games, the OCD perfection of the entire event, and I have to say that’s pretty much what I expected from Russia. What a welcome surprise that you’re not a machine.
All in all, you spent a ton of money – $51 BILLION – to throw a party for the world. Even if you only managed to impress and win over half of us, it was a steal at a mere $14.50 per person.
We enjoyed every minute. We appreciate your hospitality. And we look forward to seeing you again one day. Thanks for having us!
Alex, from Canada.
(Afterthoughts: So after all is said and done, and we’re now a few months past Sochi, watching as Russia invades Ukraine like a nasty bully on a playground, while the teachers all watch horrified and angry, I reread this article feeling all the irony and none of the love. It’s like going to a family’s home for dinner, having a wonderful time, and seeing the father on the news the next day having been arrested for possession of child porn. Yeah, Putin, you’re the man. Shame on you.)