Sochi was home to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. It’s also home to one of the bloodiest war scenes and chaotic events of diaspora in history.
When it was announced that the 2014 Winter Olympics would take place on the fruitful and coastal city of Sochi, Russia, many were optimistic and looking forward to an event of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and Olympic glories. Many others were appalled by the choice of Sochi as the site of a worldly event. For some of them, it was analogous to holding an influential sporting event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a place that witnessed the killings of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. Calls were made to boycott the Sochi Olympic Games and protests all over the world erupted in front of Russian embassies and consulates.
On May 21, 1864, the Russians declared themselves victorious in the Russian-Circassian War. Prior to the declaration, the Circassians lost their last battles against the Russians and effectively lost control of their entire historical homeland. Upon losing to the Russians, some Circassians proactively emigrated to the urban centers of the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, while many others were forced to move out of their initial lands. The Circassian Diaspora thus came to be, and the Russians subsequently expanded their empire’s influence over the northwestern Caucasus.
Unfortunately, Circassians were not mentioned throughout the Sochi Olympic Games. Unlike the Vancouver Winter Olympics, in which Vancouver Olympic authorities recognized and publicized the indigenous populations of Vancouver and surrounding regions by using an inuksuk as its official Olympic logo, the Sochi Winter Olympics made almost no references to the indigenous Circassians and nearby Caucasus peoples. Furthermore, sites that were characterized as historical and massive battle graveyards were neglectfully rendered into high quality Olympic venues, adding insult to injury for many Circassians.