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NBC Will Wait To Address Russian LGBT Human Rights Violations Until 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

This afternoon, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus told attendeeds at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour that the network will take a wait and see approach to the anti-gay laws and social injustices taking place in Russia.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

LazarusRussia's draconian anti-gay laws are stirring up controversy for NBC Sports as the division prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus would not directly address the issue at the division's Saturday afternoon Television Critics Association press tour session. But he promised that if the controversy was still front and center come Feb. 6, when the company's 18 days of coverage begins, it would not be swept under the rug.

"We'll address it at the time because it's still unfolding," said Lazarus, adding that the IOC has taken up the issue with the Russian government.  "The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has assured athletes, fans and media that there won't be any issues," he added. "Governments across the world have different laws. I don't know now it's going to [affect] us. If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

More from the LA Times:

NBC's veteran sportscaster Al Michaels said, "there will always be controversy surrounding [the Olympics]. It all seems to work out."

According to Lazarus, the International Olympic Committee has said that gay athletes will be welcome in Russia and encouraged to compete. "Obviously, as a company, we are for equality and opportunity for all," Lazarus said. "We don't believe in the spirit of the law they have passed, and we are hopeful the Olympic spirit will win out."

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Comments

  1. What an inspiring and reassuring series of quotations (from two speakers):

    "If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

    Which means less than nothing.

    "There will always be controversy surrounding [the Olympics]. It all seems to work out."

    Sure it does. Nothing bad ever happens anywhere, especially Russia.

    "Obviously, as a company, we are for equality and opportunity for all."

    Well, obviously, sure, of course. Just like all companies, as long as there's money in it. Otherwise, screw it. (Dammit, why did we pick Russia??)

    Has there been much coverage of this issue in the mainstream media? I've not seen any, but I've been away recently, blissfully cocooned from this neverending saga.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 27, 2013 8:04:17 PM


  2. Wow. And if it were Jewish or Black people? What then? Unbelievable.

    Posted by: David C. | Jul 27, 2013 8:07:46 PM


  3. yeah don't be so fast to throw a big old hissy fit, gays, you see governments across the world have different laws and it's all going to work out.

    what milktoast pap. replace gay people with any other minority in these laws, and then make the same patronizing statements.

    Posted by: gomez | Jul 27, 2013 8:09:25 PM


  4. They're waiting till Winter 2014? The violence and repression are going on now. They should be doing ongoing reports, uncovering and reporting what is happening now. And so should other world media agencies.

    Posted by: john patrick | Jul 27, 2013 8:12:46 PM


  5. NBC's veteran sportscaster Al Michaels said, "there will always be controversy surrounding [the Olympics]. It all seems to work out."

    Like Munich, Al?

    Posted by: Smitty | Jul 27, 2013 8:23:42 PM


  6. Sickening.

    Posted by: tom | Jul 27, 2013 8:24:45 PM


  7. NBC's express desire to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds is an inadequate response to the situation. It's time for actions to match words, and I guarantee that both people and corporations will be judged not by what they say, but by what they do.

    Posted by: Elsewhere1010 | Jul 27, 2013 8:52:43 PM


  8. If the Russkies were calling for Israel to be wiped out, and arresting people named Rosenberg would this member of the chosen people, Lazurus be singing a different tune? In a New York friggin minute. Guess which minority must never be criticized and guess which one can be thrown under the bus. But please realize the Olympics stopped being about the purity of competitive sport a long time ago.

    Posted by: Contrarian | Jul 27, 2013 8:56:23 PM


  9. Excellent report at nbcnews.com right now

    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/27/19699629-homosexual-propaganda-law-signals-latest-russian-crackdown?lite

    Posted by: Wisebear | Jul 27, 2013 9:10:16 PM


  10. Guess it is time to cut the cable, Comcast. This response amounts to nothing.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jul 27, 2013 9:24:48 PM


  11. Blah blah. Speak out now, you $-hungry network cowards.

    Posted by: Richard | Jul 27, 2013 9:30:00 PM


  12. Of course they'll sweep human rights violations under the rug. They did it in Beijing and they'll do it in Sochi.

    Posted by: Merv | Jul 27, 2013 9:44:34 PM


  13. Get over yourselves. This major American TV network is not passing on the Olympics. Who will know? Are there many gay athletes? Gays always need something to be indignant about -- especially ones that have no life.

    Posted by: Jerome | Jul 27, 2013 10:08:02 PM


  14. Wisebear, lots of rethuglicunts in the comments though. Shouldn't America make its own laws banning the propaganda of Teabagger bigotry?

    Posted by: litper | Jul 27, 2013 10:43:51 PM


  15. look at Jerome! I can't believe that anti-gay GOP filth has sneaked even here

    Posted by: litper | Jul 27, 2013 10:45:52 PM


  16. Wanna really make NBC pay? Switch from Comcast to Uverse (Dish is anti-Gay) or DirecTV. Each customer is worth about 5 grand over 5 years. Comcast pays the IOC millions to reward them for being extremely anti-American, provide a forum for anti-Gay countries to 'look good', basically bar Gay persons from participating in the Olympics safely and with respect, and ignoring the needs of the LGBT community. Why pay them 80 bucks a month, especially if there are other options. Besides, Comcast has one of the worst customer service ratings ever.

    Posted by: Tom in Lazybrook | Jul 27, 2013 10:49:00 PM


  17. @TOM IN LAZYBROOK Uverse isn't good. But there are many options: FIOS from Verizon. LTE. Satellite Viasat Exede and WildBlue (which works anywhere there is a clear sky). Google fiber where available.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jul 27, 2013 10:55:33 PM


  18. Yes, "wait and see." That has always worked out well in situations like this... Wait now, spin later. What a bunch of tools.

    Posted by: KC | Jul 27, 2013 11:13:17 PM


  19. I'm curious to hear what people expect Comcast to do. Whether you acknowledge it or not, Comcast is a for-profit company. At this point, if the company tries to force a sovereign nation to change laws, the likely outcome will be NBC getting banned from entering Russia. No company is going to risk their $4.3 billion investment by doing that.

    Too often, people fail to acknowledge the facts. Anyone that's been to business school will tell you that making a profit is the mission of for-profit companies. Expecting a company to risk a $4.3 billion investment over a divisive social issue is naive. Additionally, why should Comcast be held responsible for fixing the mess created by the IOC?

    But, for me, the bigger question is whether we want large corporations involved in shaping the laws of sovereign nations. History shows us that companies that gain that type of power tend to abuse it.

    It's interesting that recent articles have people up in arms because Target gave money to political groups to gain a level of influence. Yet, here, people seem to want a private, for-profit company to try to influence the laws of another country. You can't have it both ways.

    Posted by: alex | Jul 27, 2013 11:57:48 PM


  20. @ David C: "And if it were Jewish or Black people? What then?"

    ... well, there's a precedent for that. Jesse Owens, a Black American won four gold metals in the 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin. Hitler apparently sent Owens a commemorative inscribed cabinet photograph of himself (at least, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens ).

    If Hitler could send a Black American a photo, I guess Putin can handle a few gay athletes, particularly since there is a lot of money for Russia to lose otherwise.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 27, 2013 11:59:05 PM


  21. It is important to note that this response is coming from the Sports department and not their News department. I wouldn't expect much more than this from the Sports department. On the other hand, the News should be attacking the issue with gusto and so far, the reporting on the whole has been scant from NBC and other networks.

    Posted by: Marc C | Jul 28, 2013 12:10:41 AM


  22. It astonishes me that the message continues to be that TOURISTS and ATHLETES will be safe. What about the CITIZENS? What about the teens being hunted by neo-Nazis? What about the LGBT people being attacked by mobs for having a Pride Parade?

    Screw the Olympics. Human life is worth much more than sports.

    Posted by: Chiedu E | Jul 28, 2013 12:35:37 AM


  23. The irony is gay rights were better in China six years ago than Russia today.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 28, 2013 1:13:11 AM


  24. The reporter over at Deadline (Lisa De Moraes) snarkily concluded their piece on NBC's announcement with:

    "While we may get no coverage of Russia’s new anti-gay laws during NBC’s Olympics coverage from that country, we will get an NBC Sports documentary about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. NBC Sports announced at the Press Tour today it will commemorate the proud moment in which the ex-hubby of Olympian Tonya Harding had Olympian Nancy Kerrigan’s knee clubbed ahead of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. NBC’s Harding/Kerrigan documentary joins ESPN’s Harding/Kerrigan documentary, in the growing pantheon of Harding/Kerrigan documentaries. NBC Sports, however, says it’s got the exclusive sit down with Kerrigan; ESPN, which came to press tour a few days earlier, said it was still trying to land Kerrigan."

    So apparently that type of clubbing gets their attention.

    Posted by: Rexford | Jul 28, 2013 2:49:14 AM


  25. NBC's investment in the Olympics needs to be threatened by even bigger losses due to domestic boycotts. Don't go after Stoli. Go after NBC, Coke, McDonalds. As soon as they see a threat that outweighs their Olympic investment, they will be the first to demand that the IOC move the games.

    Posted by: MikeBles | Jul 28, 2013 2:53:42 AM


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