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Opinion Opinion L.A.

Sochi suicide-bomber threat: The Olympics aren't worth it anymore

What if they held the Olympic Games and no one came?

Or, more to the point, why exactly are we still bothering with the Olympics anyway?

Because right now, you’d get no argument from me that the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, seem to be far more trouble than they’re worth.

On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin said Russian officials will “do our best” to prevent terrorist attacks at the Sochi Games. Then, on Monday, reports surfaced that Russian officials are concerned a female suicide bomber may have slipped inside the security cordon thrown up around the venues.

Which, coming on top of the fact that Russia passed decidedly unfriendly anti-gay legislation recently, certainly calls into question just how safe the athletes and the spectators at these Games will be.

Then, of course, there’s the money that Russia has poured into the Games: an obscene $51 billion, easily topping the $40 billion spent by China on the 2008 Summer Olympics.

And all this for what, exactly? So the good people of Earth can watch hours of ice dancing, downhill skiing and the snowboard half-pipe competition?

Sorry. It just isn’t worth another Munich 1972 or Atlanta 1996 -- or $51 billion either.

Once, the Games -- especially the Winter Olympics -- were simple affairs. They featured some skiing, some hockey, a lot of ice skating. Sometimes stars were born, though mostly of the show-biz kind, such as ice skaters Sonja Henie or Dorothy Hamill. Kind of sweet and silly at the same time.

The Summer Games, by contrast, were bigger and even more political (think Jesse Owens in 1936 or John Carlos and Tommie Smith in 1968) but, until Montreal in 1976, somewhat manageable, both size-wise and financially.

And now? Well, to be blunt: Stick a fork in them.

I really don’t want to pick up my paper (OK, click on my paper) and read about mangled bodies from a bombing by another wronged group seeking to punish this government or another for whatever, with the Olympics as a backdrop.

Yes, there are other sporting events that could be targets (think soccer’s World Cup or our Super Bowl), and no, I don’t think we should bow to the terrorists and call them off too.

But the Olympics have become too big a target, too expensive, too, well, too everything.

And really, just how much are we willing to risk/pay to find out if that Finnish cross-country skier can win his fourth Olympic medal?

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Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1 and Google +

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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