Following talk of an organized boycott of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the International Olympic Committee issued a statement yesterday saying both athletes and visitors will not be affected by the country’s new legislation criminalizing “homosexual propaganda.”
Despite Russia’s state of affairs, openly gay athletes Johnny Weir and Blake Skjellerup spoke out this week in opposition to an Olympic boycott.
But trust in the IOC, because they’ve received assurance from a neutral third-party arbitrator that Russia will, in fact, respect the rights of LGBT foreigners at the Games. Just kidding; there was no third-party arbitrator, and the IOC just asked the Russian government to please be nice. So basically, someone sent an email and then copied and pasted a Russian official’s response into a Word document:
“The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
“This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media.”
It remains to be seen? What about these Dutch tourists? Whatever, says the IOC publicity robot:
“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.”
But these “mere verbal assurances from the Russian government that foreigners will be exempt from their repressive laws are not enough,” according to Stephen Burke, CEO of the Human Rights Campaign. In a letter sent to NBC Universal (the network with exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States) this week, Burke says the network has “a responsibility to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games.”
What do you think? Boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics, or use the internationally televised event as an opportunity to publicly shame Russia on a global scale?