Matthew Mitcham Says Sexuality Shouldn’t Be An Issue At Olympics, Calls Russian Laws “Horrific,”

Matthew MitchamIt’s really sad. The way they are persecuting people in Russia is quite horrific. The Olympics is the best experience you will ever have as an athlete. Their whole memory and experience is going to be marred by this stuff. They are going to be made to feel unacceptable, inappropriate, and it is a really awful, awful feeling. The Olympics are supposed to be somewhere where they can go to be relieved of that feeling. A place where you can compete and feel that gender and sexuality is not an issue.”


— Diver Matthew Mitcham, who won a gold medal during the 2008 Beijing Games, in an interview about the 2013 Winter Olympics with The Telegraph 

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  • MikeE

    Damn Mitcham is good! he won a gold medal in Beijing doing an interview for The Telegraph?

    But he doesn’t seem to quite understand what’s going on in regard to Russia and the Olympics.

  • jwrappaport

    @MikeE: I feel like his answer was eminently reasonable. What does he not quite understand?

  • [email protected]

    what is this? I don’t even. Why do we let athletes talk?

    So yeah he basically states the obvious and then nothing else.

    Newsflash! We all know it’s horrific for gay people in Russia.

    The Olympics are somewhere you can go to prove through meaningless feats how your country is clearly the best cuz look you throw stuff real good. Yay!

    Everytime the damnable Olympics come around I’m reminded how awful humans are.

  • jwrappaport

    @[email protected]: Wow. What a weird, needlessly angry comment. Jesse Owens beating all of Hitler’s runners in 1936 was hardly a meaningless feat. Or the ’88 Winter Olympics when Jamaica sent its first bobsled team to Calgary. Meaningless for you perhaps, but somehow I don’t think you’re fit to arbitrate that question.

    The Olympics are about showcasing our species’ physical abilities and admiring those who succeed, irrespective of where they’re from. It’s about human solidarity. Yeah, not really into sports at all – more an arts guy, but you should remember what our classical ancestors knew very well: in concordiam mentis et corporis (the mind and the body in harmony). To borrow your construction, everytime [sic] I read comments like yours, I’m reminded how joyless and bitchy humans can be.

  • [email protected]

    @jwrappaport: lolwut. Needlessly angry? His only concern seems to be that some over privileged poor little athlete will feel bad. Never mind the millions of queers in Russia suffering under this legislation.

    And that second paragraph is pretty weak. physical ability is such a useless thing to celebrate. But ya know, bread and circuses I guess.

    joyless and bitchy? I’m nothing but joyful and rarely “bitchy”.

  • balehead

    He said it was ok for women to use the f word…not cool…

  • jwrappaport

    @[email protected]: “Physical ability is a useless thing to celebrate”? That’s a pretty bold statement. You realize that you’re essentially invalidating not just sports, but any kind of dance as well. Why is physical ability not worthy of the same recognition that intellectual ability is? Or artistic? I would remind you that the performance of say a Beethoven symphony is as much a physical enterprise as it is an artistic or emotional one – we musicians are just athletes of small muscles. Is a night at the orchestra “bread and circuses”? Or a day at the art museum? What about seeing Julius Caesar at the Globe? If sports are bread and circuses, so are all of those – I defy anyone to articulate objective criteria to meaningfully distinguish them. Funny that you use Juvenal’s words “bread and circuses,” as he is also known for, “mens sana in corpore sano.”

    Also, what makes you say Mitcham’s only concern is the athletes? Read the second sentence of his quote. He expresses horror at Russia’s treatment of its people – that’s precisely what you say he doesn’t care about. Moreover, how can you assume all of the athletes are “over privileged”? Again, a pretty sweeping generalization considering that you know literally nothing about their lives or what they’ve sacrificed to get where they are. Consider too how many of them are from developing countries. I think it’s fair to say that, for at least some of them, their physical ability is their ticket to a better life for them and perhaps their family.

    I can accept the charge that our culture (and schools) emphasizes sports disproportionately and often to the detriment of things I value greatly (the arts, academics, among other things), but to say that sports are just frivolous and empty is indistinguishable from some NASCAR meathead saying that Shakespeare is stupid. Grow up – accept that people can gain genuine meaning from things that you don’t necessarily enjoy.

  • mikeian

    Matthew is standing up for the many young Russian gays and lesbians who are being humiliated, tortured or killed by neo-nazi moronic thugs. This cruelty is being sanctioned by the Russian state. Shame Putin and boycott the games.
    Mike Braham,Sydney

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