Canadian Olympians to March in Vancouver LGBT Pride Parade in Sochi Solidarity Statement


Canadian alpine skier Mike Janyk and snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll, who were on the Canadian Olympic team in 2006 and 2010 will march in this weekend's Vancouver Pride Parade to make a statement of solidarity with the LGBT community against Russia's anti-gay laws, Reuters reports:

"Seeing what's going on in Russia it does feel really cool to at least stand up and hopefully have a few people take notice of that," Janyk told Reuters. "The opportunity came up to go in the Pride parade as an Olympian and I thought, oh that's a great idea and then all this other stuff came up and it is even more important now."

Even before the Russian controversy the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) had taken steps to raise its profile among the gay/lesbian community by taking part in a number of Pride events across the country.

Canada, winner of a Winter Games record 14 gold medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, is expected to send one of its biggest-ever contingents to Sochi with the COC expressing its disappointment in the Russian anti-gay position.

"Playing sports is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation," COC spokesman Dimitri Soudas told Reuters in an email. "Since London 2012, the COC has been involved in more than 100 events, with approximately 800 Olympians.



  1. Dastius Krazitauc says

    “Playing sports is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation,”

    Another person missing the point entirely.

  2. says

    But the team has yet to say they will go out with a rainbow flag at the opening ceremony, right?

    That was suggested by an opposition politician (Paul Dewar, NDP), but it was picked up by some Russian sites as if it was already their official plan.

  3. Rick says

    “But the team has yet to say they will go out with a rainbow flag at the opening ceremony, right?”

    If anyone tries to do so, they should have the flag confiscated, not because Russia’s policy is valid, but because the Olympics should not be used as a medium for expressing political views.

  4. Rick says

    “Human rights are not a political view; they are human rights”

    Right, but you did not see any team carrying the Tibetan flag into the stadium during the Olympics in Beijing, nor did you see anybody carrying a placard with a photo of jailed Chinese activists, as a way of protesting the absence of human rights in China, did you?

    With good reason.

    The Olympics are about sports, plainly and simply…..and anybody who tries to make them about anything other than that should be barred from participating in them.

    Regardless of the validity of their cause.

  5. MateoM says

    Rick, you silly homophobic troll, the Olympics is the perfect place for expressing political views, especially when the games are being held in a country that is persecuting its citizens for who they are. We all know you hate rocking the boat. You’re a gay republican: not rocking the boat and visibly standing up for your rights and the rights of others is your M.O.

  6. says

    “The Olympics are about sports, plainly and simply…..and anybody who tries to make them about anything other than that should be barred from participating in them.”

    Completely untrue. Anyone who thinks the Olympics are only about sports doesn’t understand the Olympics (or the Olympic Charter). Human rights have long been intertwined with the Olympics.

    “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

  7. Dastius Krazitauc says

    @MATT26, “I wouldn’t say he is missing the point.”

    To say that this is about the right to “play sports” is indeed missing the point. None of this is about the right to play sports. The Russian law says nothing about sports, it is about being openly gay and speech associated with being openly gay. The gay people of Russia aren’t being persecuted because they are frustrated athletes. The Dutch citizens who were arrested weren’t arrested because they wanted to play sports.

  8. anon says

    The modern Olympics have a strange history. They were started as part of the pan-European “pride” movement in the late 1800’s, celebrating the ascendancy of Europe over the rest of the world. This was mostly the British. Then after WWI the focus of the Olympics switched to peace between nations (a little late I suppose). Then, but a quirk of timing, the last Olympics before WWII was run by the Nazis in 1936. From then on out the Olympics were run by fascists, first the Germans, but then the center of action moved to fascist Spain. The Cold War prevented any reforms. It was the Nazis that introduced the Olympic rings and use of doves, as well as the Olympic anthem. During the nineties, the IOC transformed into a gigantic “Quango”, with a huge entitlement complex. Everyone tries to get their paws on it, from govt. bureaucrats to giant corporations.

  9. TampaZeke says

    @RICK, so when the North Koreans and South Koreans marched together at one of the Olympic games that wasn’t political? Did anyone complain about it? Did anyone claim that it was inappropriate? There are numerous examples of athletes wearing symbols or expressing political and/or human rights positions.

  10. will says

    Well, it’s pretty clear nobody has a game plan right now. Should I still be for boycotting Russian vokda but not for boycotting the Sochi games?

    We need american athletes, gay and straight, who are willing to make a statement at the Olympics. Sieze the moment. This was Harvey Milk’s message: tell your family, tell your friends, tell the mailman and the lady at thesupermarket. It’s only be coming out and declaring yourself, so to speak, that the walls and lies come down. We need to be out and proud at the Olympics. We need to TELL the Russian press and the television cameras, not as “activists”, nut as regular everyday people. The Russian people have a long road ahead inovercoming their prejudices (just as the U.S. has), but let this winter be the start.

  11. William says

    Here is my idea. I think Canada, who hosted the winter games in 2010, should host an alternate olympics in 2014. After only 4 years it shouldn’t be to difficult or costly to get the venues back up to scratch. Then the enlightened nations of the world would not have to debase themselves by attending Sochi, rather they could confidently send their atheletes to a country they know will respect and honour them and keep everyone safe.

  12. RonCharles says

    Kudos to Mike Janyk and Mercedes Nicoll! They are setting a great example for athletes in Canada and around the world! All Olympians should follow their example and publicly express their support for human rights and the gay community!

  13. alex says

    @RMC: “That’s good an all, thank you for the support. But you need to do it Sochi also where it will make a huge statment.”

    Wow. Are you really criticising these two allies for not doing something 7 months in the future?

  14. Bill says

    @RMC: maybe nothing special such as political demonstrations of some sort are necessary. Instead, the IOC should tell the Russians point blank that to maintain a level playing field (an obvious requirement for a fair athletic competition), gay athletes need to be able to get the same support from their partners, spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends as straight athletes can get. If a straight athlete can kiss his wife or girlfriend upon finding out that he won an event, a gay athlete should be treated completely the same. If straight couples can go out to dinner, gay couples must be treated the same. Otherwise the competition is unfair. That would
    really put them in a bind – if they say “no
    kissing for anyone,” they look like the jerks
    in movies such as Footloose (1984 version), which
    was apparently loosely based on a real-life incident that occurred in Elmore City, Oklahoma,
    which had banned dancing for a hundred years, with the ban going away in 1980 (The U.S. can be pretty backwards too).

    Who needs a demonstration when you can simply post videos on youtube showing that, and get the videos into Russia one way or another – if necessary by an encrypted connection to a proxy outside the country. As the “Arab Spring” showed, you can’t stop this sort of viral propagation of material the authorities won’t like. Russia has lots of programmers, some engaged in dubious/criminal activities. They should have no trouble running rings around their government if they want to. It’s one thing to crack down and plug a leak. It’s quite another when you have a million leaks to plug and no idea where they are.

    There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, that in Stalinist Russia, they allowed in a left-wing American movie about how the workers were being oppressed. When people saw it, they realized
    that the workers could actually afford to buy shoes. Not exactly what the government had in mind! You don’t have to be as flamboyant as you
    do in the West to make a point – in a repressive
    country, just normal behavior can be subversive.

  15. emjayay says

    Thanks Anon (hey, get a name!). I didn’t know about the Nazis inventing the rings and doves, but those people were extremely good at messaging and use of graphics and symbolism! In fact they were quite innovative and way ahead of everyone else in those areas. They understood a lot about political propaganda that no one else got yet.

    On the other hand, what’s up with some commenters on this site lately? A bunch of mostly I suppose straight athletes marching in a gay parade seen by tons of people is a really nice statement. Like the Stoli boycott, not a be all and end all, but one more bit in publicising the situation of gay people in Russia and personally expressing their complete acceptance of equality. What the hell is wrong with that?

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