Excellent points made vis a vis the conflict in the Ukraine and the public relations/propagandizing potential of a successful Sochi Games for the Putin regime. However, I would like to contend one point that you made: These Games are NOT going to be entirely successful on Russia's terms or on Putin's terms. Putin made it very clear that the Games would only be successful in his eyes if Russia won the men's hockey gold medal. And that is not going to happen.
The Olympics belong to everyone. They are bigger than any one person, any one regime. Every time an autocrat tries to take possession of the Games, the athletes reclaim them for themselves and for the world. The 1936 Summer Games in Berlin were supposed to be Hitler's Games, but Jesse Owens--among others--reclaimed them. The Sochi Games may have started out as "Putin's Games," but we--the citizens of the world--have reclaimed them. This is why, even though I am passionately opposed to Russia's antigay laws, I was also opposed to a boycott of the Games. I wanted us, as citizens of the world, to go to Russia and reclaim these Games from Putin, just as Jesse Owens and others reclaimed them from Hitler nearly 80 years ago.
These Games belong to Norway, who currently top the medal table, and to the United States, who currently have the most medals overall. These Games belong to Finland, who ruined Putin's hockey party. These Games belong to Summer and Winter Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams. These are Bode Miller's Games and Mikaela Shiffrin's Games. These are Davis' and White's Games. These are the Games of the Netherlands' speed skaters and the American skiers and snowboarders who have swept their respective podia. These are Sarah Burke's Games, and she didn't even get to attend them. These may be (and deservedly so) Volosozhar and Trankov's Games, Yulia Lipnitskaya's and Adelina Sotnikova's Games--even, for a brief moment, Evgeni Plushenko's Games--but they are also Carolina Kostner's Games and Yuzuru Hanyu's Games, Jeremy Abbott's Games and Jason Brown's Games, Gracie Gold's Games and Russian-descended American Polina Edmunds' Games. These Games belong to Denis Ten and Kazakhstan. These Games belong to the hockey players of America and Canada, men and women alike. These are Lizzy Yarnold's Games and Noelle Pikus-Pace's Games. These Games belong to Canadian curler Jennifer Jones and British snowboarder Jenny Jones. Even though she was injured in qualifying and unable to compete, theses Games belong to freestyle skier Heidi Kloser. These are the hard-earned Games of Emily Scott. These Games belong to Alex Bilodeau and his brother, Frederic. And yes, these are the Ukrainian biathletes' Games.
These are OUR Games.