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IOC: Olympic Athletes, Press, And Guests Are Exempt From Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

2014 Olympics
Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, which has already been used to detain four Dutch citizens visiting the country, has proved problematic for the International Olympic Committee in recent weeks. While the committee has previously promised that it would "work to ensure" that LGBT athletes can participate in the games without worry, safety has recently been far from a guarantee, especially with at least one openly-gay Olympian pledging to wear a rainbow pin to the games. 

Now, according to RiaNovosti, the IOC has released a statement saying that it has received “assurances from the highest level” that any LGBT individuals paticipating in the games will be able to do so without incident. The statement comes via R-Sport:

“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. To that end, 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.”

"The legislation", of course, refers to Russia's ban on "homosexual propaganda". RiaNovosti notes that, normally, said ban...

"Imposes fines for such offenses from 800,000 rubles ($24,000) to 1 million rubles ($30,500) for legal entities, from 4,000 rubles ($120) to 5,000 rubles ($150) for individuals and from 40,000 rubles ($1,220) to 50,000 rubles ($1,530) for officials...Promotion of such relations with the use of mass media or Internet resources will see harsher penalties of 50,000-100,000 rubles ($1,520-3,050) for individuals, 100,000-200,000 rubles ($3,050-6,100) for officials and 1 million rubles or 90-day suspension for legal entities."

Should the IOC's announcement prove true, this would no doubt embolden those wishing to use the 2014 Games as a forum for protest. No word has yet been released as to how this news affects the many advocates and organizations calling for a boycott of the games. Although, since such boycotts are intended to protest more than just the potential harassment of gay athletes, few are likely to change their tune. 


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  1. It's false. This news not even translated to russian.

    Posted by: litper | Jul 26, 2013 2:27:35 PM

  2. So the purpose of the legislation is really to discriminate against a segment of the Russian people and invite violence upon them, not to "protect children" if others can be exempt from it at the will of the "highest levels." But then we all knew that anyway.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jul 26, 2013 2:27:39 PM

  3. UGH, I wish Dan Savage was coordinating this instead of the vodka boycott. Here is the deal, all of us need to not watch the olympics, Olympians from the USA need to do stuff like thank gays for their wins, wear rainbow uniforms and gay it up as much as possible. THEN, when the IOC and Russia say that they can't do that and that they are NOT exempt, THEN we all get to do a nice, actual boycott and protest of Russia.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Jul 26, 2013 2:29:53 PM

  4. "at the highest levels of the Russian govt"??? Why should we trust those at that highest level? Are we talking about Putin? If so, who among us (or anybody) can place any trust in what that KGB throwback says? Is this supposed to allieviate concerns? Putin? Please.

    Posted by: Darren in atl | Jul 26, 2013 2:33:02 PM

  5. That's peachy. What about the Russian LGBT community. Sorry. Not until they're treated absolutely fairly, equally and with dignity - forever. This is only about the money. FAIL.

    Posted by: Geoff | Jul 26, 2013 2:39:32 PM

  6. Once that an athlete is arrested, the OIC will turn his sight to the other side too much money had been invested. This is just a pathetic tentative to save their image.

    Posted by: lukebrux | Jul 26, 2013 2:42:34 PM

  7. All those connected with the Olympics need to be protected from the Russian citizenry, and nobody can promise that. There are just too many instances of blatant violence against LGBT people in Russia.

    Posted by: Mike in the tundra | Jul 26, 2013 2:42:55 PM

  8. How cute. It is like reassuring Jews visiting Nazi Germany that they won’t be targeted in an event there. Nothing wrong guys, nothing to see here, keep on with the Olympics. If a winning athlete (whatever his orientation) displays a rainbow flag that would be awesome to test their fascist law.

    Posted by: SAYTHETRUTH | Jul 26, 2013 2:45:18 PM

  9. Germany did exactly the same thing in 1936. Money That's ALL this is about. The government-sanctioned atrocities against the Russian LGBT community will continue.

    Posted by: Geoff | Jul 26, 2013 3:04:14 PM

  10. Figure skating is the reason the Winter Olympics exist in the first place (true). Men in tights pirouetting on ice. The whole show is gay propaganda.

    Posted by: Kev C | Jul 26, 2013 3:08:35 PM

  11. The words of those senior officials are laws?
    It seems that there exist no exemptions in the law. Does it mean the law means nothing and the words of senior officials are more important.

    Posted by: simon | Jul 26, 2013 3:31:15 PM

  12. Aren't the World championships this summer in Moscow?

    Posted by: Matt26 | Jul 26, 2013 3:38:58 PM

  13. Since all Olympic "guests" are exempt from Russian law, lets see every Olympic athletes wave a rainbow flag at the opening ceremony.

    Posted by: Timmy | Jul 26, 2013 3:46:45 PM

  14. This rings of the Nazis allowing two half-Jewish athletes on the German Olympic team for the propaganda value. Russian "assurances" mean nothing. The IOC wants to be duped. They prefer to be willfully blind.

    Posted by: Marco Luxe | Jul 26, 2013 3:49:02 PM

  15. Please quit using that One Year To Go graphic. The Sochi Olymipcs start in six months.

    Posted by: eric | Jul 26, 2013 3:51:14 PM

  16. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sued to prevent what is now known as the Gay Games from being called the Gay Olympics.

    Given such a history, I’m not sure that I would put my faith and trust in the IOC to ensure the safety of gay participants and attendees in Russia in 2014.

    Posted by: Mitch | Jul 26, 2013 3:53:11 PM

  17. Boycotting wouldn't accomplish anything other than giving Putin stronger support than he already has. The message to actual Russians would be, "look, the West is trying to tell us to what do and is bullying us like they always do". And that would play very well to Russians and in the end would only validate his policies rather than change them. Plus, if the west boycotted, Russia would run the medal table and it would be another triumph for Putin. The only people likely to be hurt are the athletes. Also, the US government forbidding American athletes from going is the exact kind of authoritarian move that you're be protesting.

    More effective would be to participate and defy the ban like Johnny Weir and Blake Skellerjup plan to do. The US could even participate under protest which a lot of countries did in 1980. Some refused to march in the opening ceremony and others refused to march under their own flag. Countries like the UK marched under the Olympic flag and raised the Olympic flag on the medal stand. They also barred their anthem.

    I don't think the IOC would allow wearing rainbow flags or flying them at the medal ceremonies. However, carrying or wearing them would be allowed during the opening ceremony - the most watch event of the games anyway. That would draw attention to the issue and force NBC to talk about it. NBC not airing the games at all would deny the opportunity for the issue to be laid bare to a national audience at best and at worst could even cause a backlash (the gays are keeping us out of the Olympics!).

    Posted by: rjnick | Jul 26, 2013 4:05:24 PM

  18. Somehow this doesn't make me feel much better.

    Posted by: The MIlkman | Jul 26, 2013 4:05:49 PM

  19. By giving guarantees "that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media" the IOC is showing no guts but pure cowardice. Imagine how strong a message that would be to simply cancel the Sotchi Games!

    Posted by: Roman Bolliger | Jul 26, 2013 4:16:37 PM

  20. Hello HRC? Finally something for HRC to really address instead of throwing another fund raiser - yet nothing.

    Also city of West Hollywood -"The Russian-speaking population of West Hollywood is the most concentrated single Russian-speaking region in US outside of New York" - per the weho website. Surely there is a resolution to be passed or something....

    Posted by: Gold Medal | Jul 26, 2013 4:39:07 PM

  21. Ya know, I can't see myself going to the Russian Olympics next year, although six months ago I was considering it, having never been to Russia. While the IOC's "assurance from the highest [unnamed] level" is certainly nice, I'd have preferred hearing from the Russian government itself telling me that it guarantees my safety from both its official police and the marauding bands of homophobic skinhead/nationalists the appear to be the actual muscle behind its law enforcement efforts. Failing such a promise, I wouldn't feel safe an a country that has shown such little regard for the safety of its own people.

    Posted by: Keppler | Jul 26, 2013 4:39:13 PM

  22. Shouldn't the "assurance" come from the Russia itself, and not the IOC/event planners?

    Posted by: Patrick | Jul 26, 2013 4:57:23 PM

  23. It is unwise to demand a boycott (we didn't hurt and instead emboldened the Soviets in 1980 when we skipped the Olympics and they didn't hurt an were largely igored by us when they boycotted in 1984.  I remember both, remember how many athletes had their dreams crushed, along with the loss of all the investment and sacrifices in training to get to the Olympics...gone in a political move that did nothing to actually help the causes the boycotts were based on--cold war stuff, then--and only turned many who were largely neutral against.)  
    Can you imagine if Russia and our enemies at home could blame missing the Olympics and crushing the Olympic dreams of athletes and families on gays?  People who never caredabout our growing political power might genuinely start to question if it was actually true that a "homosexual lobby" had too much influence.  It wouldn't be true, of course, and we could point to the law and to the 4 Dutch tourists arrested, but all most people would know is that they couldn't see the Olympics and that our athletes had their dreams crushed because of "gay rights."  There would be no huge hit to Russia, Putin would be seen as a moral hero by his people for standing up to the West, and mostly American companies (sponsors, TV networks) and Americans would be hurt financially and hardly anyone would be educated and brought to our side by such a controversial move.
    And as for canceling the whole Olympics?  Are people insane?  China commits far worse abuses every day and was host to the Games.  Brazil is abusing and shunning their poor to "clean up the cities" in advance of the Games (not to mention harming and relocating some native populations as well as destroying rainforests at an alarming and unrecoverable rate--eliminating native cultures, species, and hurting the ecosystem, and they have the Games next. Should we boycott them, too?  
    France has laws that would be considered racist and anti-muslim with fines and jailtime to boot, but should Paris never be allowed to host again?  What about England which was our most active supporter in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has participated in and defend drone attacks that frequently kill civilians? Should we have boycotted London 2012?  And many feel the secret wiretapping of foreign calls and keeping of Guantanamo Bay are deeply wrong, not to mention our growing tolerance of voter suppression and failure to protect gays against discrimination and hate crimes in many states, but should nations who disagree boycott us?
    The Olympics were designed to be above and apart from politics, even war, for this very reason.  When all the countries of the world are in the candidate pool for hosting, there will ALWAYS be reasons--good reasons--to find many lacking by our varied definitions of human rights, and its the IOCs job to keep the Olympics away from the most flagrant violators (this is partially why the Middle East and Africa are such poor contenders for selection) and while you can argue they failed here, it is worth pointing out that Russia passed these laws recently and the selection of Russia was years and years ago, as was much of the planning and infrustructure investment.  I think Russia has blown its chance for future games but the IOC is doing the best they can with the cards they have been dealt.
    And now it is time to play visible, educate others, protest in russia if we are there, push the boundaries to spread gay love and acceptance and wave flags, wear pins, and bring it up in every interview.  You want the world to take notice? Then take advantage of the world stage the Olympics provide and make some noise.
    Don't advocate boycotts that will mostly hurt Americans and lead to more reticence about gay political influence within the general public and embolden our enemies.  

    Posted by: BreckRoy | Jul 26, 2013 5:03:52 PM

  24. Well if there's one thing that's stronger than Russia's hatred of gay people, it's their love for money.

    Obviously boycotting, not the Olympics but Russian brands, is the way to go.

    The classic thing is, as far as I can tell, the ONLY thing Russia has to offer to the world is vodka and no wonder since you would need a ton of it to survive that shite stain of the world.

    btw, does anyone want to bet Putin is a homosexual?

    Posted by: Michael | Jul 26, 2013 5:03:53 PM

  25. Yeah. I don't believe you. I have no faith in these Russian pigs and I am just sorry that the only thing Russia has to boycott is their swill vodka.

    Posted by: Mmike1969 | Jul 26, 2013 5:52:43 PM

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