Olympic coverage is always riddled with contrived stories, designed to humanize athletes and tug at the heartstrings of viewers. It’s usually saccharine to the point of unbearable. This story, however, I just can’t get enough of. Kudos to Gus Kenworthy for keeping the plight of stray dogs in Sochi in the forefront of Olympic coverage.
Prior to the start of these Olympics, the Russian government ordered the mass killings of stray dogs so as to present to the world a pristine image of its Games. The truth is, no matter how hard Putin and the IOC try, their Games cannot drown out the voices of those won't stand for the injustices in Russia.
Kenworthy has done his part for the dogs, but the feel-good story should not divert our attention from the many other travesties in Russia. The International Olympic Committee and Vladimir Putin would love for us to focus only on these fluff stories, while countless Russians continue to suffer at the hands of the oppressive Russian regime.
LGBT rights have been a hot button issue leading up to and during these Olympics. Putin has arrested protesters who object to his government's anti-gay laws, while companies and activists have been vocal in their opposition. Punk rock band "Pussy Riot" has been relentless in efforts to draw attention to the situation. Police have attacked and arrested band members for their protests, refusing to let the media settle into solely covering the Games.
Earlier, the International Olympic Committee said it would be "wholly inappropriate" for the Russian punk group to protest at Sochi Olympic sites.
The IOC is utterly clueless in maintaining the Olympic Games be free from political protest. Rather than embrace its potential to put pressure on the Russian government, and better the lives of millions of people through the Olympic Movement, the IOC insists on clinging to its doctrine that Olympic sport and politics should not mix.
Money is the bottom line for the IOC, and Russia can count on its hands off approach to sweep its social and political ills under the rug. Gus Kenworthy's adoption of these stray dogs is heart-warming, but like the Olympics, it doesn't exist within a vacuum; we should not forget the political reasons why it's become such a big story. Thomas Bach and the IOC won't put pressure on Vladimir Putin, so it's up to global and social media to ensure the socio-political scrutiny remains squarely focused on Sochi 2014.
BELOW: Check out one of many video reports on Gus Kenworthy and his puppies.