It is idealistic to believe that politics and sport can ever be separated and the competition to host a major international event will always be fraught with intrigue. But when the months and years leading up to these heralded events spark such widespread anger, the manner in which the bids are selected needs to be examined.
It was only a few weeks ago that widespread rioting took place as Brazilians protested against their government’s decision to use state funding to prepare for the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in the country. Fifa’s decision in 2011 to hold the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 has also been heavily criticised. The bid was fundamentally flawed, not least because temperatures in the country surpass 50°C. In an attempt to allay fears the heat will put the players’ health at risk, Fifa is seeking to change the time of year the tournament is played. Such a suggestion would previously have been regarded as unthinkable.
Meanwhile, the World Athletics Championships are underway in Russia. The homosexual community is facing increasing levels of discrimination in the country, with one of the sport’s greatest stars, Yelena Isinbayeva, criticising those who support the individuals affected by President Putin’s new controversial legislation. Many high profile people in and out of the sports world believe countries should boycott the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. While this is highly unlikely to happen, the fact remains that the debate over Russia’s suitability to hold the event will be reignited, not only in six months’ time when the Games are held, but again in 2018 when the country hosts the football World Cup.