Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Instead of Punishing Russia, International Olympic Committee May Punish Pro-Gay Olympians

My opinion of the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") is dropping by the second.  And my parallels of the current anti-gay pogrom in Russia to events in 1930's Germany when the IOC prostituted itself to Adolph Hitler for the 1936 Summer Games seem increasingly on target.  Now, there are rumors that rather than move the 2014 Winter Games or demand that Russia safeguard gay athletes and tourists attending the Games, the IOC may be planning to take action against athletes who display any type of pro-gay support claiming that such actions would constitute engaging in "political activities".    I'm sorry, but a tawdry whore has more scruples and integrity than the IOC.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at these disturbing developments.  Here are excerpts:

Controversy is swirling around the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia -- scheduled to start six months from today -- due to a shocking and barbaric crackdown against the basic rights and freedoms of that country's LGBT community.

In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a draconian law that labels any public acknowledgement of the LGBT community as "gay propaganda." It is now a crime in Russia to advocate for LGBT equality, publicly say that gay relationships are equal to non-gay ones, organize an LGBT pride parade, or even simply hold a rainbow flag. Violators face jail time or fines of up to 1 million rubles.  . . . . And Putin's regressive policies are fueling and legitimizing an alarming surge in hate-motivated beatings, torture, and murders of LGBT people across Russia.

There are calls for the Games themselves to be boycotted, most notably from Harvey Fierstein, and actor George Takei argued yesterday that they should be moved to another host city entirely. Conversely, gay Olympians Johnny Weir, Blake Skjellerup, and Greg Louganis have come out against a boycott, saying that athletes should instead show up at the Games and express support for LGBT people.

But according to a shocking New York Times report by Jeré Longman, showing up and expressing support may not be a feasible option at all. That's because instead of punishing Russia for its brutal and indefensible assault on LGBT human rights, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may punish athletes who wear pro-equality pins, patches, or T-shirts.

Longman reports that the Olympic Charter "prohibits athletes from making political gestures during the Winter and Summer Games," and that this prohibition could be used to "banish" Olympians who choose to protest, even silently, against Russian homophobia.

Since when is human rights advocacy a "political statement"? If the persecuted group in question were women, Jews, or a racial or ethnic minority group, would protesting their mistreatment still qualify as "political"? Or do things only become political when it's LGBT people -- a minority group it's still OK to hate in many parts of the world -- who are being terrorized?

Equally outrageous is the utterly impotent position that the IOC has taken on Russia's anti-gay laws from the beginning. According to The New York Times, "All the indignation the I.O.C. could muster about Russia's new antigay law was a statement saying the Olympic Committee would 'oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.'"

And the United States Olympic Committee isn't any better:
The United States Olympic Committee could have joined with Olympic committees from other nations and said they would not tolerate such a discriminatory law.

But that did not happen. And American officials decided not to speak out unilaterally. Scott Blackmun, the U.S.O.C.'s chief executive, sent a note to American Olympic officials saying, 'While we strongly support equal rights for all, our mission is sustained competitive excellence' and not political advocacy.
What contemptible cowardice. Have they learned nothing from the Berlin Olympics of 1936?

By silencing pro-LGBT athletes, the IOC will be actively complicit in Russia's egregious human rights violations.  They will have blood on their hands.

If the Games are held in Sochi, I for one will not watch ANY of the media coverage despite my love of figure skating (one of my daughters was a competitive skater).  I hope others will join me in boycotting all things Olympic if the Games are not moved from Russia.


No comments: