Predictably, the International Olympic Committee is defending Mr. Putin on every aspect of his malfeasance, from the treatment of protesters and gays to the wasteful spending and unfinished hotels. IOC member Mario Pescante of Italy criticized the United States for including openly gay representatives in its official delegation. IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters recently that he is “sleeping very well” in spite of the terrorism alerts and compared Sochi to Salt Lake City, which hosted the Winter Olympics a few months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
We hope all who compete in or attend the Games are kept safe. But few are likely to confuse Mr. Putin’s muddy police encampment with Salt Lake City, Vancouver or other host cities in democratic nations where Olympics have been built on civic participation, private sponsorship and the rule of law. The enduring problem of the Olympic movement and its leadership is that, like Mr. Bach, it is unable to make that distinction.