IOC Says Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws “Won’t Affect” Tourists, Athletes At 2014 Olympics

1309240536228_Russian police forceFollowing 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?

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  • Ridpathos

    Seeing as how a boycott will never take place, the best action would be public shaming. I would love to see gay athletes and lgbt allies do some signal of solidarity with the Russian lgbt before every single event and to publicly speak out about the horrendous actions taken by the Russian government.

  • BJ McFrisky

    Seriously—does anyone watch the winter Olympics anymore?

  • Ridpathos

    And it would be good if NBC didn’t censor them. I have a vague recollection of that being done in the past.

  • 2eo

    @BJ McFrisky: For once you and I are in agreement, I actually didn’t even remember there was a winter games, I thought this was just some athletic tournament between proper olympic games.

    It does beg the question of will anyone even notice if there is a boycott?

    @Ridpathos: Also I’m pro shaming athletes who speak out in favour or who defend Russia, absolutely and those in the LGBT community deserve the most castigation for selling us out selfishly.

  • niles

    If this affected any other minority, the cries for boycott would be loud and clear. Unfortunately, for gays and lesbians inside and outside of Russia, the silence is deafening. Where is the outrage?

  • BJ McFrisky

    Ya see there? It IS possible for people to disagree on some things but not others. I’d bet there are more than a few things you and I would agree on.

  • dnyboy

    Honestly I don’t think the Russian government is stupid enough to actually use this law against athletes during the games. They’re getting enough pressure from over the tourists they’ve already arrested, imagine the uproar they’d face with the entire world watching the Winter Olympics. (Whether you do or not, you must admit it is a relatively high profile event) The Russian government would risk a strong international backlash if they arrested high profile participants or even spectators during the games. They’ll enforce it now, but not during the games.

  • Randy

    “Y’all come on over and spend yer money, we only fuck over our own citizens.”

  • Paul F

    Wouldn’t it be amusing if the “official” uniform for these games were ALL variations on the rainbow flag? By ALL, I mean EVERY participating (non-Russian) country.

  • Shadeaux

    I love the Olympics and get very excited with summer and winter olympics. This year, I won’t be watching.

  • PSPoolside

    None of the visitors and athletes where effected by the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin either. Still a stain on the IOC all the same.

  • ChiChi Man

    Garbage. So the message from the IOC is that if you’re a tourist or an athlete, party down. If you’re a citizen, be very very afraid.

  • Daniel-Reader

    No integrity.

  • Fidelio

    I think the onus is on the networks, sponsors, and IOC to push for some level of protection for the LGBT community in Russia. How can Russia be a metaphor for humanity and the “Olympic Spirit” that are supposed to define these games? I think if there is enough buzz around boycotting the games, I sense the powers that be push for more meaningful changes. For my part, I am publishing these memes anywhere I can. It’s a small gesture, but I wanted to do something that succinctly conveys the message of I WILL NOT WATCH…

  • DarkZephyr

    F*** Johnny Weir and Blake Skjellerup.

  • mjcc1987

    So, it has come down to me, mine, and not yours. As long as they torture you and not me it’s ok. As long as I can shop and be “fabulous” it’s ok. So, the lives of the “locals” are not as important as say Weir or NBC sportscasters or a few athletes because it’s not fair after all….. we’ve trained for so long….. it’s just a few deaths of unimportant people. We are so fucking shallow.

  • sangsue


    Russia, caviar and vodka

    Florida, orange juice and Disney

    Chic A Fila

    Boycott whoever and wherever sexism, anti-glbt and racism rule.

  • RLS

    @niles: hmmm, like the immigrant and minority students who have a curfew in Russia because they are routinely beaten, tortured, and murdered by the same skinheads who are responsible for the atrocities against LGBT people? Stop being such a whiny victim and do your research on the cesspool that is Russia. This stuff has been going on for years for PLENTY of groups, it’s just that you didn’t know or care until gays were the target. That’s fine, but spare us the “oh if it were the BLACKS/LATINS/ETC everybody would care” act. Because over there it kind of has been for years. And people still didn’t care. Also, you’re a moron.

  • Kangol

    But wait, didn’t Russia just charge several “visitors” with crimes under its draconian new anti-gay laws?

    So how is the IOC going to ensure that a gay athlete who decides to wear anything that celebrates being gay, or who openly admits to being gay, or who is even just suspected of being gay and in contact with LGBTQ Russians, will not be charged with a crime, arrested or expelled?

  • Chris

    That what they said about those who were Jewish in Berlin 1936.

Comments are closed.