The Olympics hasn't gotten off to a rousing start for the Russians. Once the events began, the expectation was that focus would shift from the negative P.R. resulting from President Putin's anti-gay policies and poor venue construction to the actual sports. The opening ceremonies went off without a hitch, but the Russians failed to properly vet the athlete representative they chose to light their Olympic flame. Or at least that's how it would appear. Irina Rodnina, who shared flame lighting duties with legendary hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak, is facing scrutiny for tweeting this photo last year of Michelle and Barack Obama.
The Russian skater who just lit the Olympic flame tweeted this doctored, racist photo of the Obamas last September. pic.twitter.com/kQhIDqXwki— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) February 7, 2014
Out of all the athletes they had had the choice of, Russians flubbed another decision. These Winter Olympics are going as smoothly for Russia as Shawn Marion's jump shot. Speculation has persisted that Rodnina's selection wasn't random, but was a cheap shot at America and the already chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia.
When asked about the controversy, Sochi Games CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko (it's okay, take your time with the pronunciation) dismissed the incident.
"She is a three-time Olympic champion, one of the most respected in the world of Olympic athletes," Chernyshenko said during a regularly scheduled news conference. "I want to stress that Olympics is not about politics, and any political talks about discussions are inappropriate."
Rodnina also chalked it up to political adversaries attempting to stir up controversies. Whose political adversaries she was referring to is unclear. The constant threat of terrorism hasn't helped, but the ancillary reasons why President Obama became the first President since 2000 to pass on attending the Summer or Winter Olympics is pretty clear.