George Takei | News | Olympics | Russia | Sochi Olympics

George Takei: It's Time to Move the 2014 Winter Olympics Out of Russia

Actor and activist George Takei says Russia's anti-gay laws put athletes and visitors in danger, and it's time to call for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics to be moved elsewhere.

Takei writes, in part: Takei

Many believe that such a call to move the Olympics out of Russia goes too far. Would this be their opinion if the law instead called for the arrest of any Jews, Roman Catholics or Muslims should they display any sign of their religion, such as a wearing a yamaka or praying while facing Mecca? Discrimination in any form is a blight upon the Winter Games, and it must not be tolerated.

NBC and the corporate sponsors of the Olympics should be paying close attention, too, and should get behind the “Move the Olympics” movement now, while there is still time to do so. If the Winter Olympics proceed in Sochi, Russia, all of the goodwill they have spent millions to build will evaporate in noisy protests, boycotts, and terrible publicity. I personally will be beating this particular drum loudly, as will many other LGBT actors, activists and allies. Trust me, if you are a corporate brand, you do not want to be associated with the Sochi Olympics.

Nations are not judged merely on their might, but also by how they treat their most vulnerable. Russia’s cynical and deplorable actions against the LGBT community have given license to hate groups within its borders to act with violence and impunity against a group, based solely on whom they were born to love. It now seeks to spread that hate abroad through its tainted Olympics. If Russia hopes to stand with the International Community, it must accept and adopt international principles of equality and non-discrimination.

Tomorrow, the International Olympic Committee will receive more than 300,000 signatures urging it to denounce Russia's anti-gay laws. 83 members of Congress this week called on John Kerry to clarify the U.S. State Department's position on the controversy.

Russian officials have issued conflicting statements about whether athletes and visitors to the Olympics will be prosecuted under the anti-gay laws. Thus far, the IOC has said it is standing by assurances from the Russian government that the laws will not apply to Sochi visitors, which does nothing to change the fact of their existence and the human rights abuses being inflicted upon LGBT people there on a daily basis.

It's Time to Move the Olympics [george takei]

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  1. At this point Russia appears to be on the brink of a 1938 Kristallnacht-type event against millions of LGTB citizens. We've been here before: the 1936 Berlin Olympics. There were clear signs then and there are clear signs now: Putin is making the LGBT citizens the scapegoats just as Hitler did with the Jews. These Olympics should be cancelled or delayed until they can be held outside of Russia. There are more important things, and the lives of 4 million to 14 million LGBT Russian citizens is more important. Also, does the IOC want to run the risk of a 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, only this time against the LGBT athletes? Do we really trust the Russian police and army to protect these athletes when they would probably be leading the attacks?

    Posted by: Eric | Aug 6, 2013 6:14:36 PM

  2. I fully agree. This is turning dangerous for all involved and I feel that the only way that Russia will learn its lesson is if all of the potential revenue and business the Olympics will bring is suddenly severed. I just hope it's not too late and that such a task can be undertaken without large delays or something.

    I'm getting more and more angry about this issue as time goes on. Russia truly is turning into Nazi Germany.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhousen | Aug 6, 2013 6:15:31 PM

  3. We love George, but he is too smart to think that the Olympics could still be moved. The venue would have to have all the facilities in place (thus probably a former venue) and the available hotels and athlete housing.
    There is a better chance if the Games moved to 2015, but that is very unlikely
    I figure -- show up, and thank the Russians for all the publicity about Gays needing rights.

    Posted by: Bob | Aug 6, 2013 6:19:53 PM

  4. In terms of preparations of a host city, it can always be moved to the most recent host.

    Posted by: AndyTowlette | Aug 6, 2013 6:26:43 PM

  5. Agree

    Posted by: MArk | Aug 6, 2013 6:32:54 PM

  6. I say move them to Canada where they were just held. All facilities are still in place and they would have time to get them back to perfect shape.

    Posted by: RONTEX | Aug 6, 2013 6:33:51 PM

  7. Vancouver 2014!

    Posted by: Jeff | Aug 6, 2013 6:35:10 PM

  8. @AndyTowlette, not necessarily. Many of the former Olympic venues are immediately converted to profit making versions of themselves (different lengths of courses, instead of international regulation, more aesthetic, non-compliant designs) and others are sold outright to new owners who have either dramatically changed the venue, or repurposed it altogether. Places such as university stadia and community arenas are booked 2-3 years in advance for many events, including many that have contracts in place and would breach if they, say, kicked out a concert booked there--and all others scheduled during the time it would take to bring the venues back into compliance--and lead to numerous lawsuits from every direction. Plus, most former host countries and cities are still paying off the bonds and excessive debt from their original building, and there would be little to no appetite for Governments (such as the Canadian government in this example) seizing back venues that are now in private hands, making wholesale alterations to revert venues back to regulation standards (and then back to their previous incarnations), canceling all reservations at ski resorts, rebuilding torn down apparata, canceling all concerts and sporting events that contracts are in place for, etc. Not to mention all the staff who have been relocated to Russia for advance teams, from the IOC and countries all over the world, who have leases and contracts, etc. It's just not tenable to move the Olympics six months out. And as much as I agree with EVERYTHING George Takei says, and wish it were possible, I hate that this will now make the IOC, and various participant countries and Governments (including our own) look like they are siding "against" the LGBT community, by not backing this "reasonable" proposal and alternative to boycott. The problem is that with only six months to go in a planning and building process that takes 8+ years, they *can't* do it, no matter how much they (like me) would like to.

    Posted by: berbear | Aug 6, 2013 6:39:09 PM

  9. I agree 150% with George. Every decent country should pull out or move the Games to a fair-minded country.

    Posted by: Peter | Aug 6, 2013 6:42:18 PM

  10. I am certain that Vancouver could get it done.

    Thanks, George, for stepping up.

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 6, 2013 6:44:18 PM

  11. I'm not sure they can move the Olympics. In the original article, George Takei suggested Vancouver because the Olympic facilities are still in good condition, but that's not the full story - spectators going need to book hotel space. It's not clear that there is enough lead time for that. Also, people may have already purchases airline tickets to get to Sochi, so the airlines would have to cooperate and let them change their reservations free of charge. You'd also have to make sure that other events have not been scheduled at the nearby ski areas they would have to use.

    Too bad George Takei can't play "Mr. Sulu" and threaten to beam one homophobic Russian politician to the surface of Venus (where it is literally hotter than the Biblical Hell*) for each person arrested under their anti-gay laws.

    * The surface temperature of Venus is about 462 degrees Celsius whereas the Biblical Hell, with its lake of fire and brimstone (sulfer), must be no hotter than 444.6 degrees Celsius, which is the boiling point of sulfer - at any higher temperature the lake of fire would no longer be a lake. (There's a counter argument based on "soul pressure", treating "souls" as an ideal gas, given the size of Hell and how nearly everyone ends up there according to most sects' theology. The idea is that the pressure is so high that the boiling point goes up substantially. The counter-counter argument is that the size of Hell must be expanding rapidly or otherwise the "soul pressure" would make it harder to get in just when the demand to get in is at its highest.)

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 6, 2013 6:48:19 PM

  12. And when there are issues, the LGBT athletes and visitors are the ones who will suffer, because I can assure you OBushma and the IOC will say things that do nothing to correct the flaming idiocy that is Putin and his regime.

    Too bad the CIA can't kill Putin.

    Oh, wait. They can.

    Posted by: YsoSerious | Aug 6, 2013 6:59:35 PM

  13. St. Petersburg 2028! no seriously:

    Posted by: Craig | Aug 6, 2013 7:07:02 PM

  14. George Takei is just as bad as Putin! He uses his cis-privilege and penis to promote the gays, but what about us?! He is worse than Osama bin Laden! Think about my trans-compatriates skeletonizing down the hill only to be ensnared by a cis-trap at the end. I thought this was a lgbT website! Why do I have to read so much about the gays?! It needs to be at least 50/50!!!!!

    Posted by: DoMANique | Aug 6, 2013 7:22:10 PM

  15. Totally agree, though highly doubt they will move the Olympics. We need to make sure that companies that sponsor these games and plan to advertise during the games understand they will face a boycott. I believe NBC has a lot of power here and if they know this is going to hurt revenue they will support the effort.

    Posted by: Ken | Aug 6, 2013 7:26:47 PM

  16. yarmulke

    Posted by: NotJewishButComeOn | Aug 6, 2013 7:54:40 PM

  17. noble idea. virtually impossible to pull off. but movements get started by a spark of an idea. george has put this out there. let's see where it goes.

    Posted by: deedrdo | Aug 6, 2013 8:08:21 PM

  18. If the Games could be changed it would make the strongest statement possible to the world community about homophobia. Just the act itself of moving them is a huge statement. But we have to have solidarity woth most of the countries -- it can't be just the United States calling the shots & bulldozing like we have a reputation for in the Middle East & elsewhere. It has to be a world community effort.

    Posted by: will | Aug 6, 2013 8:11:58 PM

  19. There's a report the kid in the picture with the two skinheads, the pic everyone has seen, has died. It's time for the world to step up.

    Posted by: Michael | Aug 6, 2013 8:23:34 PM

  20. agreed

    Posted by: Moz's | Aug 6, 2013 9:11:04 PM

  21. it is my understanding that vancouver has already signaled that it is able and willing to host the 2014 games. yes there would be a gigantic kerfluffle, but the financial and political embarrassment to russia would be off the charts, and a clear statement that a pogrom against its glbt citizens would not be tolerated in the modern world...

    only an action this dire can make that statement !

    Posted by: jack | Aug 6, 2013 9:11:06 PM

  22. They're doing a remake of the old James Bond movie, and this time they're calling it, "From Russia With Hate".

    Posted by: David From Canada | Aug 6, 2013 9:16:18 PM

  23. You gays only care about yourselves. Who cares if a few of you cis-bros die? My zysters are killed everyday in your back yards! It true! Check Jezebel!

    Posted by: DoMANique | Aug 6, 2013 9:21:35 PM

  24. Go away George. No one elected you spokesperson for the gay community. You won't be able to bowel move the Olympics.

    Posted by: Garth | Aug 6, 2013 9:46:42 PM


    -- pull out and be "the ones who spoiled the Games"

    Better to show up and show pride!

    Posted by: Bob | Aug 6, 2013 10:46:44 PM

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