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Sochi 2014 Committee: Athletes Can 'Express Themselves' But Not Protest at Press Conferences

Yesterday we reported that Dmitry Chernyshenko, the Russian head of the Sochi Games said that Olympic athletes should not be allowed to express their political views during news conferences at the games, a position that put him at odds with IOC President Thomas Bach, who said athletes are free to make political statements when speaking to the press.

Dmitry_ChernyshenkoThe Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee is now trying to clarify Chernyshenko's remarks, the AP reports:

"The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee would like to clarify comments attributed to Dmitry Chernyshenko yesterday concerning athletes being able to express themselves during press conferences. Sochi 2014 are fully aligned with the position of the International Olympic Committee," the committee said in a statement.

"Mr. Chernyshenko simply meant that athletes are free to express themselves at a press conference - but of course they cannot use a press conference to make a demonstration or protest - similarly, they cannot use any Olympic venue to demonstrate."

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  1. But… of course, the Russians view and law is that acknowledging our people's EXISTENCE ais an offensive protest and a political act. Got it.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Jan 30, 2014 2:13:40 PM


  2. Huh, seems like they would have worked out specifics between themselves way long ago, before Russia was even awarded the privilege of hosting the Olympics. No time like the present to continue with the "shout" show they've created.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Jan 30, 2014 2:37:22 PM


  3. @ Hey Darlin', more like 'S*** Show' rather than "shout show".

    Russians with power are bullies. 'You don't like our anti-gay laws? - We'll expand 'em! How'd you like that?!

    For them, the wording doesn't even matter anyway. Whatever they write or pass into law means whatever they say it means. The law could say nothing but "twinkle twinkle" and they'd just declare that that means NO GAYS ALLOWED upon penalty of WHATEVER WE DECIDE.

    Posted by: Alien | Jan 30, 2014 2:48:17 PM


  4. Dear IOC and Comrade Chernyshenko:

    BULLSH*T!

    Signed,
    A Non-viewer of your Bigoted Homophobic Soviet-style Winter Games

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Jan 30, 2014 2:58:21 PM


  5. Those Russian Officials don't know what the f#ck to do or say. I will be watching the Olympics to enjoy the sports and to see how some of the supporters of equality make the Russian homophobes squirm. I hope that all we see are some great athletic events and squirming Russian homophobes and not some horrific terrorist attack.

    Posted by: andrew | Jan 30, 2014 3:43:51 PM


  6. @ Alien,

    Yeah, I know!

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Jan 30, 2014 3:47:20 PM


  7. The difference between "express" and "protest" is basically meaningless, and will almost certainly be defined by whether or not Russian authorities decide to go after the athletes who make such "expressions."

    The IOC has to be very, very clear about what is or is not acceptable in their eyes -- what they will or will not protect athletes for doing.

    If they are speaking to the press at length about LGBT issues and that gets covered live by a TV network, is that a "demonstration."

    It's pretty clear to me that it wouldn't be, but the Russian authorities would no doubt try to shut it down. What protections would the athletes get in this situation? Would the IOC protect the athletes' rights to talk to the press in these ways?

    What if they wear a rainbow ribbon in their hair or paint their finger nails. Are they "expressing" themselves, or protesting? Will the IOC deem that acceptable? What if the Russian authorities make that decision for the IOC -- what is the IOC going to do to protect the athletes?

    These are difficult questions, but if the IOC hasn't thought at length about this and set up scenarios and how they would react to those scenarios, they should be held liable for *anything* that happens as a result.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jan 30, 2014 3:59:30 PM


  8. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:03 PM


  9. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:09 PM


  10. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:13 PM


  11. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:19 PM


  12. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:23 PM


  13. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:30 PM


  14. Wow. To compete in the olympics you now have to give up your rights as a human being. What an evil organization !

    If they could make more money banning gay people or black people they would do it.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 30, 2014 5:34:33 PM


  15. That jacket is so gay

    Posted by: Manny Espinola | Jan 30, 2014 6:15:36 PM


  16. @Icebloo: Posting it 7 times doesn't make it any less false.

    Posted by: andrew | Jan 30, 2014 7:19:56 PM


  17. @Icebloo: The Olympic organizers don't make laws. Like any event, attendees are subject to the laws of the host nation. So, despite the fact that a huge portion of the globe can drink legally at age 18, they couldn't do that when in Atlanta for the '96 Games.

    Sochi was selected to host in July 2007. Since the gay propaganda law was in June 2013, I don't see how anyone can find fault with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relating to this one law. They aren't psychic.

    That said, the IOC does have a history of ignoring human rights violations when selecting host cities. Given Russia's track record, Sochi was a bad choice.

    The modern Olympic movement was a non-profit, non-governmental organization with a noble goal. Sadly, it has been hijacked by corporations and governments. If anyone is to blame for that, it's probably the United States.

    Posted by: alex | Jan 31, 2014 1:02:32 AM


  18. Please sign my Change.org petition called "TOP TEN REASONS WHY WE WON"T BE WATCHING THE 2014 SOCHI OLYMPICS" which we're sending to NBC, NBC Sports, and the International Olympic Committee. Let them know we won't support corporations and organizations that put money and profits ahead of people and human rights. Here's the web link: http://www.change.org/petitions/nbc-here-are-the-top-ten-reasons-why-we-won-t-be-watching-the-2014-sochi-olympics

    Posted by: Daniel McHugh | Jan 31, 2014 10:34:09 AM


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