Column: Olympic spirit eclipsed by me-first committee

Thanks to President Jimmy Carter, the last time Russia hosted the Olympics, the United States didn’t participate, depriving America’s finely honed athletes the one opportunity many of them would ever have to enjoy the thrill of taking part in the games.

Now as Sochi looms the descendants of those unfortunates might fervently wish they were going somewhere else to show off their winter skills, and that goes for their individual cheering sections as well. Some might even be wondering if Carter’s boycott was so bad after all. The possibility of terrorist violence has forced loved ones and friends of U.S. team members to reassess their plans for traveling, a few at the suggestion of the participants themselves.

Whether the thousands of security personnel and frantic efforts to meet the logistical challenges of evacuation can beat back the threat swirling around the venues where thousands of the world’s finest will be put through their paces is problematic. Even if the answer is a resounding yes as we fervently hope, the atmosphere is hardly what these games symbolize — a place for peaceful and exuberant competition between friends and even enemies.

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