BREAKING: This just in, after I published this post. Russia’s Interior Minister has just confirmed that Russia will enforce its draconian new anti-gay/anti-trans law during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and that Russia will arrest Olympic athletes and guests who run afoul of the new law. That means an Olympic athlete appearing in public with their same-sex spouse will be arrested. It also means that an NBC reporter interviewing any athlete who does or says anything perceived as pro-gay – for example, mentioning their same-sex spouse or appearing in their home with that spouse – will be jailed.
And in answer to my post below, now we know why it took the Russians three weeks to get back to the International Olympic Committee. The Russians never had any intent on promising to protect the safety of athletes and guests at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
It’s been nearly three weeks since the US Olympic Committee (USOC) claimed that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was working with Russia in order to guarantee the safety of athletes and visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. And, sadly, we still have no guarantee.
Which raises the question of just how long it should take for the host of the Olympic Games to promise that it won’t throw Olympic athletes, and visitors, in jail? Shouldn’t that be a no-brainer? And shouldn’t the fact that it’s taking going-on three weeks to get such a simple promise show that at this point no promise will be sufficient to guarantee the safety of our athletes?
As you know, Russia is in the middle of a violent crackdown on the human rights of its gay and trans citizens in order to bolster the failing Putin presidency (Putin has, in essence, made gay and trans people Russia’s new “Jews” – the “enemy” used to unite the people).
At the same time, neo-Nazi vigilante groups, who have been ignored, and certainly empowered, by the Russian government have been kidnapping and torturing gay teenagers across the country. For a long while, the Russian authorities refused to even investigate the crimes, and now, following public pressure, they are investigating, though they say the torturers will only get 3 months in jail, if convicted. Compare that to the jail terms given dissidents, or even someone who shoots a cat.
Russia’s Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, has made clear, repeatedly, that Russia’s new anti-gay “propaganda” law – which prohibits anything perceived as pro-gay, whether it’s speech or even an article of clothing, or a hug – will apply to athletes and guests attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Russian law is so broad that a gay Olympian seen in public with their same-sex spouse, or an NBC reporter conducting an interview with a gay athlete in which their same-sex spouse is mentioned, or a gay athlete simply receiving a hug from their gay partner after completing their competition, could lead to the arrest of all parties involved.
Let’s put aside for a moment the disturbing notion that the IOC even needs to ask Russia whether Olympic athletes and guests to the Sochi Games will be subject to arrest, kidnap, and torture.
No, what’s even more disturbing is that it’s taken nearly three weeks for the Russians to give a satisfactory answer to the question of whether Olympic athletes and guests will face arrest, kidnap and torture during the Sochi Games.
And that ought to tell us something.
A few weeks ago, Buzzfeed published a letter, dated July 25, 2013, from the US Olympic Committee, saying it was working with the IOC and the State Department in order to guarantee the safety of Americans at the Sochi Games. In that letter, the USOC also noted that the IOC was working with the Russian government to determine how Russia’s draconian new anti-gay/anti-trans law might impact Olympic athletes and visitors during the Winter Games next February.
It’s now been nearly 3 weeks, and we still do not have our answer.
How many days does it take exactly to say “no, we’re not going to arrest, kidnap and torture Olympic athletes and guests during the Sochi Games”?
Apparently more than 19 .
Last Friday, more than two weeks after the USOC and IOC said they were trying to guarantee the safety of Olympic athletes and guests, the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, said there were “still uncertainties” as to whether Olympics-host Russia had plans to harm Olympic athletes and guests at Sochi.
If it’s taking the Russians nearly three weeks to promise not to harm athletes and guests attending the Winter Olympics, I’d call that more than an “uncertainty.”
Let me put it another way. Let’s say someone invites you to dinner at their house. But you’ve gotten wind that at some point during the meal, your host might have plans to arrest you, and then quite possibly beat and torture you.
Now, it’s bad enough that you have to ask the host if he plans to harm you during the dinner party.
But it’s even worse that it’s taking the host nearly three weeks to get back to you, and the answers he’s given to date have been, shall we say, “uncertain.”
Guess who’s not coming to dinner.