Actor George Takei has started a petition to have the Sochi Olympic Games moved from Russia to Canada. U.S. President Barack Obama has cancelled a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While Obama’s reasons for cancelling the summit are many, one of them is Russia’s crackdown on civil rights … namely new laws that almost make homosexuality a crime. Takei, a well-known gay rights activist, has that as a specific reason for wanting the Olympics moved from that country. Foreign Affairs Minister has John Baird denounced Russia’s controversial new anti-gay law as hateful. Kudos to Baird, Takei and Obama for taking a stand. It’s time, however, that the International Olympic Committee took a stand. Too often the powers-that-be hold their nose and look the other way when dealing with countries rife with human rights abuses. Or, they rationalize that in doing business with such countries, the abusers will see the folly of their ways and change. That simply doesn’t happen. When it comes to the Olympics, the IOC is the first to tout itself as a worldwide organization touting inclusiveness, etc. In fact, the second principle stated in the Olympic Charter reads: “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
The sixth principle in the charter reads: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
So what does the International Olympic Committee have to say about Russia instituting homophobic laws?
“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle. As you know, this legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media. To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
In other words, hold your nose and dive right in.
— Prince George Free Press