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NBA Commissioner David Stern Denounces IOC's Silence on Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

NBA Commissioner David Stern said a lot on Wednesday even though he said he wasn't going to get into a discussion about the Sochi Games and Russia's anti-gay laws, swiftly and briefly denouncing the new President of the IOC and the organization for not stepping up against human rights abuses.

SternStern spoke at a panel at the Beyond Sport Summit:

“I’m gonna behave myself, for the record here, which is unlike me,” NBA commissioner David Stern said Wednesday, speaking as part of a panel that included Ed Rendell and was moderated by ESPN anchor and Philly native Kevin Negandhi. “But you know, the first phone call to the new head of the Olympics [was] from President [Vladimir] Putin, and everyone wants to talk about the Russian law on homosexuality. Think about the opportunities that sports have to make a continuing statement, and the only thing that we’re saying in that context is ‘Shhhh! No one say anything!’”

The phone call Stern spoke about took place on Tuesday, from Putin to the newly-anointed IOC President Thomas Bach, who appears to be toeing former IOC President Jacques Rogge's line when it comes to dealing with the issue, Philip Hersh reports:

“We did not discuss the law,” Bach said, laughing, after his brief conversation with Putin.

But how the IOC deals with all the issues related to “the law,” Russia’s recent anti-gay legislation, is a serious challenge Bach immediately faces after becoming the eighth white European man in the IOC presidency...

...Bach, a 59-year-old attorney and 1976 Olympic fencing champion, said this was not the time to discuss the details of how the IOC will handle such incidents, but he clearly sees the need to let athletes and their national Olympic committees know in advance what to expect.

“We will follow our values and the Olympic Charter to make sure the Olympic Games and the participants in the Olympic Games can compete and participate without discrimination,” Bach said. “We have the clear assurances of the highest authorities in Russia, and we trust those assurances.

“The policy of the IOC in more detail will be worked out and communicated with the national Olympic Committee and the athletes.”

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  1. The IOC doesn't seem to understand that it is seriously damaging its brand by how it is handling the sochi situation.

    Posted by: woody | Sep 13, 2013 8:53:48 AM

  2. "'We did not discuss the law,' Bach said, laughing, after his brief conversation with Putin."

    Well, I'm glad he thinks the human rights violations are so hilarious.

    Posted by: Mike8787 | Sep 13, 2013 9:17:27 AM

  3. The IOC is a homophobic hate group.

    Thomas Bach is a bigot.

    We need to keep telling the sponsors of these disgusting games that their business will suffer if they continue to fund persecution.

    Posted by: MaryM | Sep 13, 2013 9:18:30 AM

  4. The IOC are probably too brain dead to realize what kind of problems they're dealing with. Sochi is a disaster waiting to happen. The daytime temp on Feb. 7, this year was 55 degrees F., the date when the Games will officially open next year. According to writers Boris Nemstov and Leonid Martynyuk, “Russia is a winterly country. On the map, it is hard to find a spot where snow would never fall, and where winter sports would not be popular. Yet Putin has found such a spot and decided to hold the winter Olympics there: in the city of Sochi.” (from Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: An Independent Expert Report, May 2013). They also estimate the actual cost for Sochi will be in the range $50 billion, because of embezzlement and kickbacks.

    Posted by: Joseph | Sep 13, 2013 10:05:22 AM

  5. The IOC is really doing a lot of damage to kids who spend what is then their entire lives training for an Olympics.

    Who wants to grow up only to discover that their greatest achievement will forever be associated with bigotry and callousness?

    When I hear someone is an "Olympian", I cringe now, because it's becoming very clear that the Olympics are homophobic.

    Posted by: Randy | Sep 13, 2013 5:54:37 PM

  6. Clearly the IOC doesn't give a rat's ass about gay rights or the restrictive laws in Russia - just about its chance to make money off sponsorships from other companies that don't give a rat's ass about gay rights and continue to sponsor a bigoted and un-Olympic Games.

    Posted by: Christina Engela | Sep 13, 2013 7:29:18 PM

  7. David Stern's deliberately restrained response actually speaks volumes in support of equality and I'm extremely thankful that he made this gesture to let Bach know he is going to challenge him to do the right thing. As head of the premier basketball association in the world his voice in support of human rights including LGBT equality is one that can't be ignored. If he threatened to keep the NBA out of Olympic basketball until the IOC took the right stand on equality that would be a game changer.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Sep 13, 2013 7:41:09 PM

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