What's worse, systematically harassing and assaulting gay people or boycotting corporate sponsors of a sporting event?
Olympic Committee Could Punish Athletes For Speaking Out Against Russian Anti-Gay Law | ThinkProgress
Activists want athletes to wear rainbow flag pins or show LGBT pride and solidarity in other ways. American figure skater Johnny Weir has said he’s unafraid of getting arrested, and openly gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup from New Zealand, has pledged to wear a pin at the Games. But if they do, the IOC told GayStarNews this week, they risk violating Rule 50 of the Olympic charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
“Regarding your suggestions,” an IOC spokesperson told GayStarNews, “the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration. This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary. In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done.” Any athlete who violates that rule, the IOC says, could be punished with disqualification.
Talk about missing the point.
It’s understandable why the IOC doesn’t want political, religious, or racial statements flooding every Olympic Games. The Olympics are, indeed, supposed to be a time when politics are set aside and the world comes together, and at many previous Olympics, those statements could have run contra to the Olympic mission that promotes inclusion and tolerance in sports.
This is different. Advocating for human rights and tolerance of LGBT people, for one, isn’t “political propaganda” and isn’t even about politics. It’s about basic human decency and basic rights to compete, attend competitions, or live life as the person you are without fear of retribution, just as it was when John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised black-gloved fists on the medal stand in Mexico City in 1968. Any pro-LGBT sentiment expressed in Sochi, meanwhile, won’t be undermining the Olympic Mission but upholding it. That’s especially important right now, since even though the IOC says it has assurances and even as IOC president Jacques Rogge says the Olympics “should be open to all, free of discrimination,” the IOC has done little to promote that tolerance and inclusion itself.