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.

Comments

  1. KevinSF says

    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 et.al was just peachy with them.

  2. HadenoughBS says

    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.

  3. Pete N SFO says

    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.

  4. Kathleen says

    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.

  5. Will says

    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.

  6. FernLaPlante says

    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.

  7. jjose712 says

    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

  8. Tom Chicago says

    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.

  9. Rick says

    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.

  10. jamal49 says

    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?

  11. Rick says

    “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.

  12. QueeRevolutionary says

    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.

    #BoycottSochi2014
    #BoycottRussia
    #BoycottGayBashingOlympics

  13. TB says

    Why are people anti-gay? You’re not the Jews, so don’t flatter yourselves. Good that the IOC is nipping this in the bud. Let Obama be a leader and deal with Russia’s gay oppression. Not a bunch of flighty gays fresh off the marriage manipulation.

  14. Just_a_guy says

    QR, so long as your facts are correct, your analysis is dead on. The IOC thinks it can pretend it isn’t taking a political stand here, but it is: the IOC SUPPORTS Russian gay pogroms. Sorry, gay figure skater (Wier), but your IOC organization is embedding itself in persecuting gay people and even those who support gay people. This could be the end of my imagined trust that he Olympics are worth it.

    “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.

    #BoycottSochi2014
    #BoycottRussia
    #BoycottGayBashingOlympics”

  15. cando64 says

    All the more reason for every single athlete from “safe” countries to raise a small rainbow flag as they enter the opening ceremonies. Lets see the reaction of both the Russian government and IOC to that statement!

  16. Fox says

    The IOC could solve the problem of pin, patch, and T-shirt “propaganda” by going back to the way it was in the ancient Olympic games and mandate that all athletes compete in the nude.

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