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Ian McKellen Would Like to See Athletes Ignore Russia's Anti-gay Law During Sochi Olympics: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 10.17.02 AMAt a press event in NYC for his new Broadway plays "No Man's Land" and "Waiting for Godot," Ian McKellen shared his thoughts on Russia's anti-gay law and its impact on the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi.

The Wall Street Journal reports that while the British actor opposes a boycott of the entire Games, he hopes that in the 'spirit of the Olympics' athletes and allies will stand united and ignore the anti-gay law:

"The Olympics is a very special event and for the people involved, of course, probably the climax of their lives. If we were to not hold the Games because of the internal politics of the country in question, the problem is they would never take place...As a gay man it is absolutely appalling that this law has been passed which would inhibit me and any gay athlete that would go to Russia to be simply themselves...I think what would be wonderful is if all athletes, gay and straight, and the Olympic authorities were to make clear that they absolutely disapprove of it and they are going to ignore it, not because they don't care but because of the spirit of the Olympics must take precedence."

Check out the full clip, AFTER THE JUMP...



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  1. I think Ian likes violence too.

    Posted by: BP | Sep 25, 2013 6:57:19 PM

  2. Ian McKellen is a buffoon. Is he senile?

    Posted by: Adam | Sep 25, 2013 7:16:16 PM

  3. This makes me so sad to read.. I've always loved Ian McKellen. To say that a competitive sporting event "must take place" over gay lives is sick.

    Posted by: JMC | Sep 25, 2013 7:56:02 PM

  4. precedence*, of course.. don't know how I mangled that word for autocorrect to pull that one

    Posted by: JMC | Sep 25, 2013 7:56:48 PM

  5. So Ian ... when athletes are yanked out of their races by the IOC for speaking in support of gay people or when that same athlete is arrested and hauled off to Russian prison for "advocating gay propaganda" - are YOU going to be there to stop that? Are YOU going to be there to force the IOC to put them back into their races? Are YOU going to confront the Russian Government and demand they be released from prison?

    The ONLY thing we can do to stop Russia's anti-gay policies is to boycott the games all together and to make sure the IOC NEVER again hands an Olympic venue over to any country that discriminates against any world citizen, gay or straight.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Sep 25, 2013 8:52:31 PM

  6. I think what he's proposing (and what I've wanted to see all along)would be far more effective and compelling than a boycott. History shows that acts of civil disobedience are both compelling and powerful.

    Wearing a rainbow flag, speaking out against the law, engaging in other peaceful demonstrations of support certainly pose some level of risk for athletes and spectators, and has to be a personal decision. But, I find it far fetched that the Russian police would be dragging athletes that are national heroes to the gulag, or that the harassment or arrest of foreign nationals would not raise outrage in the international community. The whole world will be watching. Embarrass the hell out of the hosts.

    Posted by: Liam | Sep 25, 2013 9:57:13 PM

  7. "The ONLY thing we can do to stop Russia's anti-gay policies is to boycott the games all together"

    How absurdly naive that statement is. The "ONLY" thing we can do? Then the whole thing is doomed.

    The 1980 boycott of the Moscow Games was an utter failure, only the US, West Germany, Norway and China of the bigger/Western countries stayed away, the rest were places like Chad. France? The UK? Spain? They all went. But hey! Papua New Guinea didn't!

    Russia stayed in Afghanistan until 1989.

    The 1984 tit-for-tat boycott by the Soviet Union and its minions of the Los Angeles Games was an abject failure on their part, nobody here gave a damn that South Yemen or Angola weren't here.

    There were calls for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Games because of their appalling human rights record and the Tibetan nightmare. How well did *that* work out? [rolls eyes]

    Boycotts are notoriously ineffective, because it's very easy for the entity being boycotted to outlast the protesters, who usually have short attention spans. For every successful gay Coors beer boycott (and even that was a pyrrhic victory), there's ten others that failed.

    "and to make sure the IOC NEVER again hands an Olympic venue over to any country that discriminates against any world citizen, gay or straight"

    How naive are you? The IOC doesn't give a damn about you and your hippie ideals, they care about countries and corporate sponsors lining their pockets. And by the way, unless you are a monk living in a totally isolated monastery --and since you're on the Internet, I'm guessing that's not the case-- you patronize in some way at a minimum one of the sponsors of the future Games and World Cups.

    2016 Games: Rio--woops, there's those pesky native Indians that cause so much trouble for their European-derived overlords, it's already been made clear that any troublemakers will be "disappeared" to the countryside, just like the Chinese did.

    2020: Tokyo--great idea! Fukishima is still leaking toxic radiation, radiation which lasts for hundreds of thousands of years, sorry if you get radiation poisoning!

    The football (soccer) World Cup is just as bad, they've selected Russia in 2018 and Qatar (!!) in 2022.

    They don't care about your opinion, unless you're going to show up at IOC or FIFA headquarters with a huge check with lots of zeroes behind it.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Sep 25, 2013 10:46:45 PM

  8. Liam: I agree. A boycott (which will never happen, by the way) would certainly be newsworthy. But, having small acts of civil disobedience being broadcast across the world will have more impact. And, if Putin is stupid enough to arrest an athlete, the civilized world will react.

    Don't underestimate the Olympic spirit. TV networks certainly manufacture some human-interest stories during the Games. But, some of those moments are very real. Look up Lawrence Lemieux (1988) if you have your doubts.

    Posted by: alex | Sep 25, 2013 11:26:35 PM

  9. Wow...such opinions...such convictions...mine is that Sir Ian should keep his day job.

    Posted by: Booka | Sep 26, 2013 3:54:10 AM

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