TIME Television

Here’s How 30 Rock Would Have Lampooned the Sochi Olympics

30 Rock may be gone, but the legacy lives on

  • The Gang Goes to Russia

    30 Rock - Season 5
    NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    There’s been a flurry of news coming out of Sochi as journalists arrive in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics — and if only our dearly departed 30 Rock was still in season, there’s no doubt that Tina Fey and company would find a hugely satisfying way to satirize the chaos in Russia.

    Since that’s unlikely to ever happen, we did the job for them.

  • Dirty Water

    Dirty Water
  • Fur Uniforms

    Fur Uniforms
  • Stray Dogs

    Stray Dogs
  • Yogurt

  • Vladimir Putin

    Vladimir Putin
  • Willie Geist

    Today's Take
  • Doorknob Drama

    Doorknob Drama
  • The Internet is Down

    Internet Is Down
  • Missing Tracy

    Missing Tracy
  • Harvard Prank

    Harvard Prank
  • A High-Profile Cameo

    t.A.T.u's Cameo
  • No Light Bulbs

TIME russia

Sochi Olympics Stirs Nationalism of an Exiled People

Circassians protest in Turkey against Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi
Members of a Circassian ethnic group shout slogans during a protest against the Olympics in front of the Russian Consulate in Istanbul, Feb. 2, 2014. Sedat Suna / EPA

Long before Pussy Riot or gay rights activists sought a boycott of the Olympics, a forgotten community native to Sochi's black pebble beaches clamored loudly against the games

Last July, Doku Umarov, a shadowy militant leader operating in Russia’s North Caucasus, urged Muslims through a video message to launch attacks on the Winter Olympics, which begin this week in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The events to be held there, Umarov claimed, constitute “Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors.” His dark pronouncements, as well as terror strikes that recently hit a southern Russian city, set the tone: Sochi’s Games have become the most anxiety-ridden and militarized Olympiad in recent memory. If there is any sort of dancing to be done, it will involve quite a few heavy army boots. But what of those ancestors’ bones?

Long before the punk rock group Pussy Riot or global gay rights activists sought a boycott of the Olympics, a forgotten community clamored loudly against the events in Sochi. The Circassians, whose history of dispossession and exile Umarov opportunistically invoked, are a scattered, largely Muslim people native to the Caucasus, now found mostly outside of Russia in Turkey and parts of the Middle East. Their original homeland stretches from the eastern rim of the Black Sea – where Sochi sits – to the rugged western highlands of the Caucasus, but few of its indigenous inhabitants remain there.

By the mid-19th century, Tsarist Russia sought to expand its dominion to the south, eyeing the ancestral lands of the Circassians and other realms of the Caucasus, which were earlier under the loose control of a declining Ottoman Empire. In 1864, Russian forces defeated the last resisting armies of the Circassians and carried out “the first modern genocide on European soil,” writes Oliver Bullough, author of Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus, a critically-acclaimed book on the region.

The conquest, by some accounts, led to an ethnic cleansing: during the great expulsion of the Circassians, violent deportations, slaughters of civilians and the onset of famine and disease decimated half of their then 2 million strong population. Russian colonization followed. According to the Financial Times, Sochi’s lavish ski complex at Krasnaya Polyana is “built on the site where most of the Circassians ‘cleansed’ from the surrounding region froze and starved to death—almost exactly 150 years ago—as they awaited deportation.” Those who survived mostly fled to the Ottoman Empire, which itself was soon to collapse. Currently, some two to five million people in Turkey claim Circassian or other Caucasian heritage. Circassian diasporas exist in Jordan, Syria, Israel and even as far afield as New Jersey.

But after more than a century in exile, their hold on the global imagination is thin. That wasn’t always the case: Circassian women, renowned for their beauty, were lusted after by generations of monarchs across the Mediterranean world, while early European Orientalists obsessed over the Circassians’ elegant coats and robes. Still, the exoticism of the past has yielded no clout in the present and some liken the Circassians’ plight to the much-diminished Native Americans of North America.

A Circassian lobby group in Israel wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee after it awarded the Winter Olympics to Sochi, insisting that “we regard the holding of the Olympic Games on our homeland in the places of mass graves and genocide as an act of vandalism.” The IOC did not even respond to the message. Months of protests by Turkish Circassians outside Russian institutions in Istanbul and elsewhere raised awareness, but achieved little else. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan heads to Sochi on Friday; Russia is a key source of oil and natural gas for Turkey.

In Russia, where some 700,000 Circassians — known as Adyghe — live, their objections have been met by silence and intimidation. Decades of Tsarist and Soviet population policies have seen myriad communities dispersed and relocated, borders redrawn and ethnic homelands erased from the map. The Circassians’ experience is a particularly brutal one, but they are hardly alone. And Russia’s rulers are in no mood to pander. Bullough cites Russian President Vladimir Putin taking a stand on Russian history during a speech in 2007: “It must not be allowed that we are forced to feel a sense of guilt,” he said.

When Putin made his pitch for Sochi, reports the FT, he hailed its rich cultural past, citing the coastal colonies of the ancient Greeks. But, to the ire of Circassians around the world, he made no mention of the people Russia removed from its soil. In recent weeks, Circassian activists and members of civil society who may have voiced their disquiet over Sochi have been detained or called in for questioning in neighboring Russian republics. The contrast between this and the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where Canadian organizers made special effort to spotlight their native inheritance, could not be more stark.

“The Russians have not preserved the memory of their wars for the Caucasus,” writes Bullough, “and the ghosts of their victims will haunt them till they do.” The terror fears surrounding Sochi are in part a consequence of this. But that’s hardly a consolation for the millions of Circassians whose own history has been scribbled away in the footnotes of others and who may look at the celebrations taking place in their homeland only with a sense of loss.


Olympics on TV, Online and in Apps: How to Catch All the Action

AFP / Getty Images

From television to apps to social media, we'll show you how to stay on top of this year's games.

Even if you haven’t been struck with Olympic fever quite yet, the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this week is sure to ramp up your excitement to Olympic levels. But with more than 2,500 athletes competing in 98 different events, how is it possible to keep up with everything this year’s games have to offer?

From television to apps to social media, we’ll show you how to stay on top of this year’s games.

Catch the Olympics on NBC

NBC’s time-delayed coverage starts on Thursday, Feb. 6 (though the opening ceremonies are on Friday), and runs through Feb. 23. During this time, NBC’s prime time schedule will be taken over by the Olympics so you won’t be able to see your favorite shows until the games are over. Cord cutters should invest in an HD-capable antenna to get the best view.

However, NBC will only be broadcasting a selection of Olympic events, and mostly during prime time. For the entire show, you’ll need to tune in to NBC cable sports affiliate NBCSN. NBCSN will air live coverage starting Saturday, Feb. 8 at 3 a.m. ET.

Stream the games online

You’ll be able to stream Olympics video on demand from NBC’s website NBCOlympics.com right to your mobile device or laptop. There is also the free NBC Sports Live Extra app for over 1,000 hours of coverage and all 98 medal ceremonies:

The catch is you’ll have to log on with information from your cable provider in order to view any video — but once you do, you can stream everything the Olympics has to offer.

If you’re a cord-cutter or you’re only interested in catching Olympics highlights, look to YouTube. The YouTube pages for the Olympics and NBC Olympics will have highlights and the latest video coverage.

Apps for the latest Olympic news

Stay on top of Team USA’s progress with the Road to Sochi app for iPhone and Android, and Windows phones featuring news, scores and the stories behind the Americans participating in this year’s games.

For updates beyond Team USA, you’ll want the Sochi 2014 Results app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phones. It’s the quickest way to find schedules, scores and other news straight from Sochi.

Follow the Olympics on social media

Social media is the place to get Olympic news fast, from the latest scores to live photos and video. NBC will have the official word on the games, and they’re available wherever you want to follow them. Find NBC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine. Not enough? Follow the official pages for Sochi on Twitter and Facebook or the Olympics on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

If you’re craving still more Olympic excitement, NPR has created easy-to-follow Twitter lists of athletes and media attending this year’s games, so you won’t miss the action from any perspective.

If you want to follow a specific athlete, check out the official Olympics social directory, where you can browse or search for specific Olympic social accounts. Many athletes are updating their public Facebook profile pages as well. You can search for them by name in Facebook or follow the Facebook Pages of entire teams. Here’s a short list for you start with:

If you want to keep it simple, then just Like the official Facebook page for the U.S. Olympic team.

Remember that you can search on Facebook like you can on Twitter by using hastags in the search box. Any public post using that hashtag on Facebook will be shown in the results. Key hashtags for the Sochi Games are:

  • #goteamusa
  • #Olympics
  • #seeyouinsochi
  • #sochi2014

Instagram is the place to see the latest photos from the Olympic Village and more. Start by following Team USA and the U.S. Paralympics. Then keep an eye out for photos at these key Olympic locations:

However you prefer to take in media, tech offers you plenty of options for keeping up with the Winter Olympics. Now there’s nothing to do but enjoy the Games and see who takes home the gold.

This article was written by Elizabeth Harper and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME russia

Russian Official Says Sochi is as Safe as Anywhere

Says terror attack no more likely than in New York or London

A top Russian official said Thursday that the threat of a terror attack at the Sochi Winter Olympics is no greater than anywhere else in the world.

“There is no reason to believe that the level of danger in Sochi is greater than at any other point on the planet, be it Boston, London, New York or Washington,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told reporters, according to Reuters.

Security is high ahead of the Winter Games, which got underway Thursday before opening ceremonies on Friday, and more than 30,000 security personnel have been deployed in the city amid terror threats. In December, at least 34 people were killed in twin suicide attacks in the southern city of Volgograd, about 400 miles from Sochi.

“We can guarantee the safety of people as well as any other government hosting any mass event,” Kozak said.


TIME russia

U.N. Chief Calls for ‘Olympic Truce’

Ban Ki-moon appeals to warring parties to lay down arms and speaks up for LGBT rights around the world

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for people at war throughout the world the lay down their arms and observe observe an “Olympic Truce.”

“I repeat my call, again and again, for all warring parties to lay down their weapons during the Games,” Ban said, addressing the International Olympic Committee on the eve of the Winter Games in Sochi. Citing conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan, he said a truce would allow for “life-saving humanitarian aid to suffering people,” the Associated Press reports.

Ban also criticized Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” laws, saying the international community must oppose any attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century,” he said.

One of the largest events that brings much of the world together, the Olympics are always tinged with politics, and this year is no exception. Russian President Vladimir Putin chose Sochi, reportedly one of his favorite vacation haunts, as the place to showcase Russia’s reemergence on the world stage. But cost overruns and terror threats have dominated the headlines, while Russia and the West remain at odds over the ongoing civil war in Syria and political turmoil in Ukraine.

If history is any indication, the momentum of international politics will continue apace, and the problems facing the international community will still be problematic two weeks from now. But the Olympics are a grand stage—one of the largest available—for an international leader to capture the attention of the world. While many world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, are staying home, Ban chose to deliver the keynote address to the IOC’s general assembly, which is the first by a U.N. secretary-general. He will also take part in Friday’s opening ceremonies. A U.N. spokeswomen told the AP that Ban’s participation is indicative of the “growing relationship between the IOC and the United Nations.”

TIME olympics

Russia Blocked Shipment of Yogurt to Olympians

American athletes waiting for their Chobani

Russian officials were holding up a shipment of yogurt bound for American athletes in Sochi this week, prompting outrage from participants in the Winter Olympics and from officials.

“Unfortunately, this protein-packed, New York-made food has met a serious roadblock in the Russian government, thanks to an unreasonable customs certificate,” New York Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement on Tuesday.

Chobani, the Greek yogurt maker based in New York, is a U.S. Olympic Team sponsor and was sending 5,000 containers to American athletes for the Games, which kicked off Thursday ahead of opening ceremonies on Friday. But the shipment was held up in cold storage at Newark Liberty International Airport and Russian officials said Chobani hadn’t submitted the appropriate paperwork, the New York Times reports. Schumer sent a letter to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak calling for the government to clear the shipment, saying the yogurt-maker meets U.S. sanitary standards, and the Times reports that the Obama administration has also intervened.

TIME olympics

Americans Warn Airlines of Toothpaste Bombs on Sochi Flights

Security personnel patrol the Olympic Park at the 2014 Sochi  Winter Olympic Games

Amid an already tense security environment, the United States is now warning airlines flying to the site of Russia's Winter Olympics to be on the lookout for explosive devices disguised as passengers' toiletries that may be used to attack aircraft

American authorities are warning airlines with flights to Russia for the Olympic Games to be on the lookout for bombs in toothpaste containers or other similar cosmetic tubes.

Citing unnamed government officials, CNN and ABC News report that the warning was issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to both domestic and foreign airlines. The warning says intelligence reports suggest such containers could be used to store the ingredients for a bomb to be assembled aboard an aircraft. Authorities cautioned that they haven’t identified any specific threat to the U.S., CNN and ABC report.

“While we are not aware of a specific threat to the homeland at this time, this routine communication is an important part of our commitment to making sure we meet that priority,” an official told ABC News. “As always, our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, and DHS will continue to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment.”

Security in the host city of Sochi has been high for months, as the Russian government prepares for the Winter Olympics that start this week while also combating the threat of militants operating in the Caucasus. In the months leading up to the Olympics, terrorist groups have issued threats, and three suicide bombings in as many months have rocked cities in Russia. That has clearly had an impact on observers in the U.S. — in a CNN poll released on Wednesday, 57% of Americans said they believe a terrorist attack at the Sochi Games is likely.

“Out of an abundance of caution, [the Department of Homeland Security] regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics,” the department said in a statement.

TIME olympics

Team Figure Skating at the Winter Olypmics: What You Need to Know

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada perform during an ice dance figure skating training session at Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, February 5, 2014.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada perform during an ice dance figure skating training session at Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, February 5, 2014. How Hwee Young / EPA

Meet the newest event in Sochi

Bet you didn’t know that figure skating could be a team sport, did you?

Figure skating is already one of the marquee events of the Winter Games, and since four different disciplines of the sport apparently weren’t enough, the International Olympic Committee decided to add another—a team event. So for the first time ever, figure skaters this year in Sochi can earn more than one medal at the Games, a possibility not lost on those hungry for hardware.

The competition begins on Thursday, as the men and pairs do their best to add to their country’s totals. Here’s what you need to know, and what to watch for.

Which countries are competing?

Only 10 countries earned the right to compete at the event, based on how their skaters finished at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series this season, and other events. In order of rank, those countries are:

  1. Canada
  2. Russia
  3. U.S.
  4. Japan
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. China
  8. Germany
  9. Ukraine
  10. Great Britain

How is the event scored?

Just like in the other skating events, each skater performs two routines—a short and a free program, for a total of eight scores per country. First place receives 10 points, second place nine points, and so on down the line.

Only the top five scoring teams will continue on to compete in the free skate.

Which skaters are competing?

Each country’s skating federation will determine which athletes will skate which events. Each team is allowed two substitutions across all four disciplines; one ladies’ skater may perform the short program, for example, while another performs the free, and one pairs team may compete in the short and another compete in the free, and that would exhaust that country’s substitutions.

Entries for each category (ladies, men, pairs and dance) must be submitted 24 hours before the scheduled event.

Which US skaters will be chosen to compete?

The U.S. skaters have kept their strategy under wraps. As the 2013 world team trophy champs, the Americans have a good chance of grabbing gold; seven of the eight members of that championship team are competing in Sochi.

What strategy is involved?

The event stretches over three days of competition, beginning Thursday (the day before Opening Ceremonies) with the men’s and pairs short programs. Russia, which only qualified one male skater in the men’s event, 2006 Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Plushenko, will have to use him in both the short and free programs of the team competition, but has more play in the pairs and dance events, in which they have three teams each.

Coaches and skaters will have to balance the demands of competing in potentially four programs in the space of a week, and the U.S. athletes have hinted that they would be eager to spread the wealth at the team event to maximize the number of athletes able to participate.

Canada is also strong in pairs and dance, with three teams each, while the U.S. qualified three teams in ice dance, including reigning world champions and Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, but only two in pairs.

The ladies’ events, on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9, will be a good opportunity for Russia, Japan and the U.S. to tally up points; the U.S. team includes new national champion Gracie Gold, and Ashley Wagner, who came in third in this season’s Grand Prix Final, and newcomer Polina Edmunds. Japan has Mao Asada, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, new national champion Kanako Murakami and Akiko Suzuki. Russia produced some surprisingly talented teens this season, after some mediocre rankings in recent years; look for Yulia Lipnitskaya and Adelina Sotnikova to stun the judges with their jumps.

And finally, training-mates-from-different-countries Davis and White (U.S.) and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada), who work with coach Marina Zoueva in Canton, Mich., may face off in the short and free programs in ice dance; they are the reigning silver and gold medalists, respectively, from Vancouver.

TIME olympics

America’s Olympic Standard Bearers: Men and Women Who Carried the Flag Throughout History

Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick has been selected to carry the American flag in the opening ceremonies in Sochi. TIME takes a look back at Olympic athletes who have also carried the colors.

TIME olympics

Shaun White Pulls Out of Snowboarding Event

Shaun White
Shaun White attends a press conference of the US snowboard team at Gorki media center in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Feb. 5, 2014. John G. Mabanglo / EPA

White says the course is too risky. Canada says he's just scared he'll lose

First Lindsey, now Shaun.

NBC, which paid $775 million for the rights to broadcast the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, received some more bad news Wednesday: the most recognizable American competitor left in the Sochi Games, snowboarder Shaun White, has withdrawn from the slopestyle snowboarding event, which is making its Olympic debut. In slopestyle, boarders navigate a downhill obstacle course with jumps and rails.

Although White will still compete in the Games, his pursuit of a gold in both slopestyle and his strongest event, the halfpipe—White has won the last two Olympic halfpipe titles—had been one of the notable storylines going into these Games. For the first time, NBC is broadcasting primetime coverage before the opening ceremonies, and tomorrow’s slopestyle qualifying is one of the anchor events.

America’s biggest female star, skiier Lindsey Vonn, had already said she would not race in Sochi because of an injured knee, but fans can blame Olympic organizers for White’s absence. Riders have complained Russia made the slopestyle course too dangerous. That’s a bit shocking, given the safety issues that marred the Vancouver Olympics, particularly on the sliding track, where luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia tragically died after a training run. On Monday, a slopestyle medal favorite, Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, broke his collarbone during practice and was forced to withdraw from the Olympics. The course was modified overnight, but those moves didn’t help much: on Tuesday, White jammed his wrist, and Finnish snowboarder Marika Enne crash landed on the final jump, hitting her head.

In a statement to the TODAY show, White said he wanted to concentrate on the halfpipe. “With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on,” White said.

This is all good news for Canada. Mark McMorris was the favorite going into the slopestyle event anyway: White is one less threat. If White had won both the slopestyle and halfpipe, he would have become the first Winter Olympian to win every event entered in a career, having competed in at least four events. Canadian hockey player Caroline Ouellette can now be the first to earn that distinction.

Slopestyle snowboarder Maxence Parrot also likes his chances. He fired off this tweet:


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