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Georgians divided over Sochi

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 5
The Sochi Olympics will kick off on February 7, and in Georgia there are mixed moods about this. While there are good arguments for and against Georgia’s participation, the Georgian government is sticking to its initial decision. Georgian athletes will participate.

The previous Georgian administration headed by President Mikheil Saakashvili was categorically determined to boycott the games. However, the new Georgian government fixed its position from the very beginning and took a more pragmatic- less provocative position.

The position of the current Georgian officials is based on the idea that sports should be separated from politics. Besides, as the special envoy for Russian affairs Zurab Abashidze stated: Georgia’s participation in the Olympic Games safeguards Georgia’s role in the case something unpleasant happens in Sochi.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Western allies support and appreciate Georgia’s willingness to participate in the games. From the sports point of view, the Georgian delegation consists of four members including three mountain skiers and one figure skater. Georgia’s major hope is with figure skater Elene Gedevanishvili, who has a chance to appear among the top ten in singles’ ice dancing.

So when Georgia pursues a policy of separating sports from politics it should be mentioned that the decision to participate in the games is mainly political. Besides, this step complies with the general foreign policy course Georgia is currently following. Georgia mindfully tries not to exacerbate the situation by pushing the sensitive issue of Russian-Georgian relations – the de-occupation of the Georgian territories.

Sochi Olympic Games protesters meanwhile highlight Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories, pointing out that participation in sporting events hosted by an occupying country is wrong both morally and politically. According to this opinion, it means that Georgia indirectly agrees to the disintegration of the country.

They also suggest that the Olympic Games might be used by Russia to further promote the idea of an independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which should definitely be followed by the protest of the Georgian delegation. This all would eventually become scandalous.

Analysts have the opinion that the Sochi Olympic Games are a symbolic redline. It is supposed that when the games are over, Russian President Vladimir Putin will start more actively involving himself into Ukrainian affairs. It is not even excluded that Georgia could also be target of Russia’s provocations.