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Olympic Committee May Send Athletes Home if They Publicly Support Gay Rights at Sochi

The NYT makes note of another threat to gay athletes and allies at the Sochi Winter Olympics: The International Olympic Committee itself.

SochiThey write:

Just as Russia now prohibits “propaganda” in support of “nontraditional” sexual orientation, the Olympic charter prohibits athletes from making political gestures during the Winter and Summer Games.

So it is entirely possible that any bobsledder or skier wearing a pin, patch or T-shirt in support of gay rights could be sent home from Sochi, not by Russian authorities, but by another group that suppresses expression: the International Olympic Committee.

Would the I.O.C. inflict such a public-relations disaster on itself? Perhaps not. But Olympic officials worldwide, including those in the United States, along with NBC and corporate sponsors, have put themselves and athletes in an awkward position by only tepidly opposing the Russian law that bans “homosexual propaganda.”

Today, 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.

There have also been high-profile calls to move the Olympics from Sochi entirely, led by actor and activist George Takei.

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  1. The IOC only cares about profit not lives. Lets ensure they do not profit from the 2014 Olympics. BOYCOTT OLYMPICS AND THEIR ADVERTISERS

    Posted by: Jeff | Aug 7, 2013 8:59:08 AM

  2. They obviously won't do this lol

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 7, 2013 9:12:32 AM

  3. Without athletes there are no Olympics. Maybe they should be the ones pressuring the IOC.

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 7, 2013 9:14:46 AM

  4. The IOC is and always has been homophobic. Recall how it sued over the use of the term Gay Olympics, while Dog Olympics, Beer Olympics was just peachy with them.

    Posted by: KevinSF | Aug 7, 2013 9:20:37 AM

  5. The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are turning into a potential PR disaster for Russia, the IOC, the USOC and NBC, their US media partner whose broadcast rights fees are a major source of income for the IOC. I would be astounded if the IOC were to send home any athletes or team associates expressing their support of LGBT rights in the face of Russia's homophobic anti-gay law. OTOH, any verbal or physical clashes over this issue would only enhance the winter games broadcast interest and put this draconian Soviet-style law in front of billions of TV viewers worldwide. So, I dare - no - I double-dare the IOC to join with their throwback Russian hosts and send packing those who speak out in their support of our LGBT human rights during the Sochi games.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Aug 7, 2013 9:24:30 AM

  6. Sometimes I think 'the gays' suffer from "Battered Society Syndrome" We're so used to people treating us poorly that we become okay with an 'he only beats me sometimes' attitude.

    George Takai is exactly right. If Russia were passing laws singling out ANY other group: blacks, jews, muslims, etc, the western world at least, would be united & unequivocal in its opposition.

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Aug 7, 2013 9:27:54 AM

  7. Hey OIC - Go F yourselves.......Human RIGHTS Trump you!!

    Posted by: disgusted american | Aug 7, 2013 9:28:07 AM

  8. WHAT!!! I don't believe this!

    Posted by: Matt26 | Aug 7, 2013 9:30:26 AM

  9. My concern is with whole situation. How long is the world going to stand around watching this mess before they do something about it. This is the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany in the 30's and look what happened with that.

    Posted by: Kathleen | Aug 7, 2013 9:44:57 AM

  10. Does anyone know if the IOC implemented the same policy with the Nazis?

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 7, 2013 9:45:52 AM

  11. Its not politics. It's a basic human right to be treated equal and with equal protection. Every athlete who believes this should wear a rainbow pin. Russia can't deport everyone!!

    Putin will regret signing this into law. He did this on himself and he should expect the worlds condemnation and shame.

    Since I doubt the IOC can "protect" the athletes, and I know they can't protect the visitors. Boycott everything russian and especially the advertisers that support this Olympics.

    Posted by: Will | Aug 7, 2013 9:53:05 AM

  12. F the IOC

    boycott the Olympics

    Posted by: Moz's | Aug 7, 2013 9:53:38 AM

  13. This is fine so long as they also send home any athlete that makes a political statement supporting traditional marriage. i.e. wearing a wedding ring.

    Posted by: FernLaPlante | Aug 7, 2013 10:06:38 AM

  14. Boycott!

    Posted by: Sean | Aug 7, 2013 10:08:33 AM

  15. Takei is right, unfortunately, sports are more about profit than anything else.

    And this is the begining, because there will be a swim championship in Russia, and of course Qatar fifa championship. And COI and Fifa will receive more and more pressure, because people are tired of all this.

    I was against Pekin olympics, but at least China was taking little steps (little and slow) in the right direction. Awarding with this kind of events to countries like Russia that are getting more and more bigoted is ridiculous

    Posted by: jjose712 | Aug 7, 2013 10:30:24 AM

  16. The ioc has always been antigay

    Posted by: rick scatorum | Aug 7, 2013 10:42:35 AM

  17. IOC = money interest, only. Eff them.

    Posted by: Geoff | Aug 7, 2013 11:05:02 AM

  18. IOC is doing the dirty work for the Russians, I guess. Is this how the IOC is able to give "assurances" that gay athletes/allies will be safe in Sochi? Anyone who goes there is going to have to hold his nose while trying to applaud Olympic excellence, a very awkward posture.

    Posted by: Tom Chicago | Aug 7, 2013 11:10:53 AM

  19. Good move. I am glad the IOC made this announcement ahead of time so that there is no confusion about what will happen to anybody that tries to politicize the Olympics, regardless of what issue they are trying to call attention to.

    There is a time and a place for everything and the Olympic Games are most definitely not the place for political gestures.

    Posted by: Rick | Aug 7, 2013 11:22:51 AM

  20. Well, that's a fine "stab in the back" for us, isn't it? Wear a rainbow emblem on the uniforms, I say!

    Guess NBC and IOC have too much money invested in this. It's all about the Benjamins/Euros/Rubles, isn't it?

    Posted by: jamal49 | Aug 7, 2013 11:27:53 AM

  21. "And COI and Fifa will receive more and more pressure, because people are tired of all this"

    Actually, what you are all going to discover is that nobody who is not gay gives a damn about Russia's policy towards gays or any other country's policies.

    How some of you have managed to delude yourselves into thinking that there is some kind of outrage among people who are not gay when it comes to homophobia of any sort is beyond me.

    Even those who support gay rights in North America and western Europe tend to be ambivalent about homosexuality and lukewarm in their support. And the vast majority of the global population remains intensely homophobic, regardless of where in the world you go.

    We simply don't have the goodwill or the clout required to have any effect at all in these situations.....and you would be better off realizing that than trying to fight a futile battle.

    Posted by: Rick | Aug 7, 2013 11:32:22 AM

  22. They have blood on their hands.

    Posted by: RMc | Aug 7, 2013 11:51:41 AM

  23. Another shining example of how "sports builds character.) NOT.

    Posted by: jomicur | Aug 7, 2013 11:55:08 AM

  24. @ Mark: What do you mean? Did they send Jews home?

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Aug 7, 2013 12:05:51 PM

  25. The IOC were political when they allowed the Nazi Olympics to happen while Jews and gays were being arrested in Germany in 1936.

    The IOC were political in 1964 when South Africa was banned from the Tokyo Olympics and then in 1968 from the Mexico Olympics and until 1992 when South African apartheid ended. Nations from around the world (including the Soviet Union) threatened to boycott the Mexico City Olympics if the IOC did NOT ban South Africa.

    During the 1968 the IOC were political again when they kicked out African-American athletes who protested American racist apartheid with a Black Power fists in the air.

    Now the IOC is political AGAIN telling the world that they do not care if gay Russians are being beaten & arrested. If the IOC kicks out gay athletes protesting Putin's gay bashing pogroms, the IOC will be taking another political stand.


    Posted by: QueeRevolutionary | Aug 7, 2013 12:23:41 PM

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