Olympic “concern” over Russia’s threat to jail gay foreigners – how sweet

What do you know?  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suddenly discovered gay people!  How cute of them.

After nearly two years of indifference in the face of Russian anti-gay prejudice directed at Olympic athletes, the International Olympic Committee has suddenly discovered its backbone.

Well, this is the IOC we’re talking about, so perhaps “backbone” isn’t exactly the right term.

The IOC issued a statement the other day saying they were “concerned” about Russia – the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi – being on the verge of passing a law that would ban pro-gay words or actions, and which threatens to jail gay (and pro-gay) foreigners visiting Russia.

I guess that means the ice skating part of the Olympics is over.

Until now, the IOC has been – how shall I put this? – less than “concerned” about its gay athletes in Russia.  When the Russians banned the 2014 Olympics from having a Pride House for gay athletes, the IOC didn’t say boo.  Well, in all fairness, the IOC did say something… pathetic.  They issued a statement reiterating their commitment to non-discrimination.  Yeah, thanks.  And how exactly is that going to force the Russians to reopen the Pride House?

It’s not.

And the IOC expressing “concern” is going to doing a thing to stop Russian leader Vladimir Putin from demonizing gay and trans people in an effort to shore up his failed nation-state.

As I’ve noted before, the IOC has a rather clear policy against non-discrimination.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau, asked about the appeals, noted that the Olympic Charter “clearly states that 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.”

But as we’ve learned before, such statements are meaningless if the IOC refuses to enforce them.

And the gold medal in cowardice goes to….


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Crystal Nelson

    They just move it to a country that had done the olympics before.

  • Crystal Nelson

    It’s all the gay people in the games, do they really wish for the gays to be hurt over there when Russia has made a stupid law? Someone isn’t using their heads.

  • Crystal Nelson

    Tell me about it! -_-

  • Crystal Nelson

    I am so pissed at Russia, been signing petitions to stop the games from being there. I will not watch them next winter. I think the Anti-gay law that Russia passed is soooooooo stupid. That I no longer want to travel there, because the people are being so stupid (not all of them). I am not gay, try to find petitions to stop the games and don’t watch it if you do not agree with Russia

  • Butch1

    If our country really backed gays, they would boycott the Russian Olympics of 2014. How can we go when they are arresting people for being gay?

    On second thought, how can we be fighting wars for regimes who put to death people for being gay as well?

  • mmunson

    They are the two biggest sponsors of the Olympics.

  • http://fighttherightwingnuts.blogspot.com/ mike31c

    Never could figure out how a country not known for freedom was allowed to host the Olympics.

  • Teacher Kurt

    I haven’t watched the Olympics since I was a kid, except for a few minutes while channel surfing if I can’t sleep. There is always something more edifying on, and if I cannot find anything, i just read a book….

  • Julien Pierre

    Imagine how it feels to be a gay jew.

  • Ninong

    It’s not just men’s figure skating that’s at risk, what about the cast of the Bolshoi Balet?

  • cole3244

    if not nations then athletes might get involved, i’m betting there are athletes that might get together and mobilize and boycott as a group since some of their friends are affected by this barbaric policy, if we aren’t part of a solution we are part of the problem.
    in america we only seem to get involved when it is a fad or no real sacrifice is made, a boycott with no pain is no boycott at all.

  • cole3244

    too bad, you’ve obviously given up, that’s palinesque.

  • UncleBucky

    Indeed! :)

  • UncleBucky

    You’re probbly thinking of Jim Thorpe in an earlier Olympics. :)

    But the point you make is what counts. Word!

  • UncleBucky

    Word!

  • UncleBucky

    Hm, with reference to the 1936 Berlin Olympics:

    Are “teh gay” the new “Juden”? Remember what happened before and after the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Things got cleaned up, hate speech was removed and Jews — for a while — had a relaxed atmosphere, I think. Then afterwards, things ramped up to of course Kristalnacht.

    So, if the Russians say, “oh, we’ll be nice to the gay people”, don’t believe it. And afterwards, if you are foreign and even Queer, much less LGBT, don’t stick around. And to my Russian Federeration LGBTIQ brothers and sisters, “be careful” and/or try to get out.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I remember the 1980 Olympic games boycott — oddly enough, it was over the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, a war into which they poured hundreds of billions of rubles to no useful effect.

    Sadly, the boycott achieved nothing good whatsoever. The IOC hasn’t changed its habit of picking authoritarian host countries. The Soviet Union didn’t give a damn. All that happened was those athletes lost their chance to compete in the games.

    There has to be some means of applying leverage other than a boycott.

  • Sweetie

    You think corporations are people?

  • mmunson

    How about we go after McDonalds and Coca-Cola as a start.

  • Sweetie

    Think of this the next time the word “moderate” is presented as if it’s an appealing alternative to taking a stand.

  • nicho

    Well, like so many other repressive regimes, they will ignore what it profits them to ignore and it will pursue what it profits them to pursue. Just like the military used to ignore your sexual orientation when it needed you as cannon fodder — and then toss your ass out when they didn’t need you any more.

  • nicho

    I’m not against futile gestures. Just don’t delude yourself on their effectiveness. If it makes you feel better, by all means go ahead.

    The Olympics is a money-making, multi-billion dollar enterprise, in which professional athletes pretend to be amateurs. The advertising and other income is staggering.

  • fritzrth

    Wait, we saw how well their outreach to China in Beijing helped turn that country around on civil rights and freedom of the press and freedom to dissent and … oops.

  • mirror

    I think you perhaps were temporarily confusing Owens with Jim Thorpe, who won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon

  • cole3244

    never give up on doing the right thing.

  • nicho

    We tried that — didn’t work.

  • Indigo

    I got that backwards. My bad. It still seems odd that the Russians are planning to out-bigot somebody like Hitler.

  • benb

    Seems like Russia–today–is what the US would become if the Tea Party ran the White House, the Senate, and the House.

  • Monoceros Forth

    I’m tempted to pun on “movement” but I won’t.

  • mikeyDe

    What? There’s still an international olympic movement?

  • cole3244

    thats why just one nation stepping up could start the snowball rolling and who knows where that single protest might lead, anything to upset the comfort zone of the ioc.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yeah… I’m expecting some major can-kicking from the marriage equality rulings. As for the others, no idea.

  • jomicur

    Wow, so Mitt Romney is still running the Olympics, huh?

  • Hue-Man

    I just checked my passport which has an emergency contact section including a place for “relationship”. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to fill in “husband” if you’re planning to visit Russia or Qatar for the FIFA World Cup…

  • jomicur

    You men they should do something that might cost them and their sponsors a few dollars? Perish the thought! Oh, wait–the Olympics are all about peace and brotherhood and like that. Forget I said anything that might suggest otherwise.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Well, if the Russian Olympiads wear gunny sack costumes and footwear composed of recycled tires we’ll know the designers were purged.

  • Indigo

    I expect the court to hold those rulings until the last possible moment. The blowback will be huge no matter what they rule but I don’t expect we’ll find much to celebrate in what they have to say.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    The IOC embraced Nazi Germany with a passion. Look how that turned out.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Semi off-topic: No ruling today from SCOTUS on the same-sex marriage cases, nor on the pending affirmative action or the Voting Rights Act challenge.

    Next chance for news on rulings is Thursday.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/supreme-court-decisions_n_3453917.html

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Here’s the problem: The people at risk of being arrested are the athletes, their trainers, and the support staff.

    The members of the IOC will never be at risk themselves, and their motive is money. They don’t and won’t care unless there’s some horrifically awful PR incident, such as a gay athlete being beaten to death while in Russia.

  • cole3244

    would a country of conscience have the backbone to boycott the olympics in protest to this russian policy, the ioc should at least tell nations with similar policies not to bid anymore but when money is involved ethics & morality leave the discussion very quickly.

  • nicho

    I believe Jesse Owens was an African American.

  • runfastandwin

    IOC – here’s an idea – MOVE THE SITE TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY. Sure it would disrupt a lot of planning but so what?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Last century, it was Jews. Now it’s gays.

  • Indigo

    Interestingly, Chancellor Hitler gave Jesse Owens his gold medal even though Jesse, an American Indian, outran the . . . what did they call themselves? . . . the Master Race. Seems odd that the Russians are planning to out-bigot somebody like Hitler.

  • Indigo

    “Concern?” l feel so special. Not.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Perhaps temporary divorces from their spouses? Bigot.

  • Monoceros Forth

    Isn’t it great how different sorts of authoritarian regimes converge on homo-hating? I’m not exactly sure how homosexual citizens are supposed to be a menace to the state but there you are. I suppose that the increasingly unpopular Putin is seeking to shore up his power base by appealing to conservative Orthodox voters.

  • Drew2u

    The Olympics, just like the World Cup or the Superbowl, is a business first-and-foremost. The committee hides behind the veil of nationalism and unity, but I’ve no doubt that they would choose to hold the games in Saudi Arabia with the women swimmers having to wear full-length burkas if it lined the committee’s own pockets.

  • nicho

    And maybe Jews could stay in the closet too. For blacks, of course, it would be a little harder. However, homophobes can be out and proud. Congratulations.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    “Concern.” Really? That’s all?

    I guess it’s going to take a high-profile arrest or some incident of violence big enough to hit the international news — “Olympic arrested and beaten by Russian police” — before they realize there are some nations where they can’t have their games. Not if they want to claim to stand for the ideals of non-discrimination.

    I mean, what’s next? Games in Saudi Arabia where the female athletes are required to compete while wearing burkas?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Won’t exactly work if they’re already out enough for their sexual orientation and relationships to be public knowledge.

  • Scott

    So I guess that means that gay people are, “otherwise”?

  • guest1

    I guess they will have to stay in the closet for that time

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