But the issues at Sochi were quickly cast aside once the games started, as whole nations watched with bated breaths for their athletes to prove themselves on the slopes.
At Rio de Janeiro this year, familiar horror stories cropped up: the city declaring bankruptcy mere weeks before the start of the games and fears that athletes would be sailing and swimming in sewage water, to name a few. But those concerns seem to have dissipated, or at the very least, resigned to an afterthought as the pomp, drama and festivities take center stage.
Hosting events like the Olympics and the World Cup are a mark of prestige; an opportunity for countries to flex their economic power and bask in the international spotlight. But it often comes at a massive cost — not only financially, but also to the detriment of the locals.
One Twitter user shared a dismally prescient sight that captured the divide between the image presented to foreigners and what the reality truly is on the ground. @KieranCPhoto tweeted a cartoon from the 2014 World Cup of an impoverished Brazilian child standing near run-down buildings, watching fireworks over the stadium. Next to it was a photograph of almost that exact scene. The photo, KieranCPhoto suggests, was taken this year, during the Olympics. Although A Plus has been unable to confirm the origins of the photo, its similarity to the cartoon speaks to the prevailing narrative that those most in need are often left out of (or pushed out by) our most celebrated sporting celebrations.
It makes real the stark reality that impoverished communities face when their governments have priorities beyond their livelihoods.
But they aren't staying silent, either. Scenes of protests on the streets have been widely shared on social media, sending a strong message to local and foreign authorities whose dreams of sporting glory often fail to take the people's needs into account.