Queen's University

Seven Queen's experts comment on the Sochi Olympics


With the Sochi Olympics getting underway February 7, seven Queen’s University experts can comment on a variety of different topics surrounding this year’s Games, from Olympic security, the limits of the human body, to the trend of Canadian Olympic clothing as well as some of the controversies surrounding these Games.

Security at the Games

Adam Molnar

Queen’s University postdoctoral fellow Adam Molnar (Surveillance Studies Centre) can comment on counter-terrorism initiatives, the policing of political protest, civilian-military partnerships, the private security industry, as well as the wider surveillance and privacy implications of security and policing measures in advance of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Olympic cities are now a highly securitized fortress, with strict access controls and checkpoints, the use of extensive surveillance technologies such as drones, and, like other events, are showcasing the unprecedented use military forces in domestic urban environments.

“The Sochi 2014 Olympics are characteristic of the massive security and policing build-up seen at other major sporting events today, but even with these unprecedented security measures in place, a significant concern will remain in Russia,” says Mr. Molnar. “Long after the Olympic spotlight has moved on, Russia’s citizens will be dealing with this extreme security apparatus for many years, and possibly decades, to come.”

Geoff Smith

Queen’s University sports expert Geoffrey Smith can discuss the history of terrorism at globally-watched sports events, such as the Olympics.

“The Olympic Games must be understood not only as a competition involving the world's pre-eminent athletes, but as a venue and conduit for current cultural and political controversies.  This year's winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia, follow a long tradition, which is as old as the modern Games themselves.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has stamped his signature on the Games as no other political leader--and there can be no doubt that he will be fortunate if nothing untoward transpires,” says Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith can discuss events such as Adolf Hitler's Berlin Games of 1936, Black Power's emergence in Mexico City in 1968, and the murders of Israeli athletes by the terrorist Black September movement at Munich in  1972.

“So here we are again, in 2014, with these Games very much a part of the current troubled political and cultural scene--the need for security against terrorism, at the Games themselves and nearby; gender questions raised by Russian homophobia, and U.S. President Barack Obama's determination to meet that problem head-on; and the overall feeling that global corporations have taken over this event, turning it from athletics into a powerful force for sales.   Pundits and commentators will have much grist for their mills.”

Olympic Controversy

Brandon Tozzo

Queen’s University US politics expert Brandon Tozzo can comment on President Obama’s decision to not attend the Games.

“President Obama sending Billie Jean King, as well as other LGTBQ sports icons, as US representatives shows a clear protest of Russia’s discriminatory policies in the Sochi Olympics,” says Brandon Tozzo (Political Studies). Dr. Tozzo is an expert in US politics, international relations and international economics.

Dr. Tozzo can also discuss terrorist threats and security at the Games.

“As the Sochi Olympics begin, most of the attention will be on the athletes and the games. However, more so than any games in recent memory, the security of the athletes and visitors will also be a central issue,” says Dr. Tozzo. “With the recent attacks in Volgograd, Islamic fundamentalists have pledged to target both Olympians and tourists. As the Olympics get underway, we will see the Putin regime tighten security, hoping to prevent any harm to visitors and negative international attention for Russia.”

Social Media at the Olympics

Vincent Mosco

Vincent Mosco is a sociology professor emeritus who specializes in the sociology of communication and information technology and also is an expert on social movements. Dr. Mosco can comment on social media’ predicted impact on the Games.

Please note Dr. Mosco is based in Ottawa and can go to downtown Ottawa studios for television interviews.

Olympic Athletes

Michael Tschakovsky

Queen’s University athletic performance expert Michael Tschakovsky can discuss the importance of good performance near the end of a race as it refers to Olympic athletes.

Dr. Tschakovsky is also an expert in the limits of the human body and what factors determine those limits.

“Efficient technique is so important in order to minimize fatigue in muscles and allow for better sustained performance,” says Dr. Tschakovsky. “For example, a downhill skier would ideally wish to use minimal effort in redirecting skis to negotiate a course and be relaxed in the muscles by not contracting them unnecessarily. Muscle contraction actually substantially impairs the flow of blood to the muscle, and this has a big impact on how quickly the muscle fatigues.”

Dr. Tschakovsky’s faculty page can be found here.

Olympic Marketing and Trends

Tandy Thomas

Queen’s University marketing expert Tandy Thomas can discuss the trends and marketing surrounding Team Canada Olympic clothing

“Team Canada Olympic clothing hasn’t always been popular in Canada,” says Dr. Thomas. “It was really Roots taking over the design in the 1990s that sparked Canada’s interest in the clothes and merchandize. Basically, Roots made the clothes ‘cool’ and that started the trend of wearing Team Canada clothing.”

Monica LaBarge

Queen’s University marketing expert Monica LaBarge can comment on the controversy surrounding the Canadian Olympic Committee threatening The North Face with legal action after the outdoor-wear brand allegedly released a line of clothing that associates itself with Games although The North face is not an official sponsor.

“Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Olympic Committee is taking this situation pretty seriously,” says Dr. LaBarge. “Becoming an official sponsor of the Olympic games will cost a company millions and millions of dollars and the Committee has an obligation to protect that sponsorship. Ambush marketing can seriously damage the value of the sponsorship for future Olympic games and interfere with the fragile connection between the consumer, the sports property and the brand that the sponsoring companies are hoping to create.”

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officers Rosie Hales at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or rosie.hales@queensu.ca, or Anne Craig at 613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca.
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Last updated at 2:22 pm EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
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