Senior IOC member accuses Obama, gays, of “political terrorism”

A senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggested today that President Obama and gay rights advocates are participating in “political terrorism” by raising concerns about Russia’s anti-gay crackdown and how it might affect the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next month.

While many news outlets already noted Italian IOC member Mario Pescante’s criticism of the Obama administration for sending “four lesbians” as part of the US delegation to the Winter Olympics, most missed what else Pescante said.  He accused the United States, and gay rights advocates, of being political terrorists akin to “Chechnya.”

From Reporters with Borders

From Reporters with Borders

AP for example, has Pescante’s initial comments about the lesbians:

“It’s absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have (been established),” Mario Pescante said at an Italian Olympic Committee meeting in Milan on Wednesday, in comments widely reported by Italian media. “The games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily.”

What AP missed was Pescante’s larger point about the US, gays, and those who raised concerns about the Tibet, etc. at previous Olympics, participating in “political terrorism.”

Here’s the original Italian and the translation into English (I checked with a friend still awake in Italy, she said the translation, and my interpretation of the language, is accurate, and incredibly offensive):

“E’ vero che ci sono problemi legati alle inquietudini in tutte le parti del mondo, ma c’è anche un altro tipo di terrorismo – aggiunge – politico, fatto in nome di diritti magari condivisi da tutti che però non capisco perché debbano essere avanzati solo in occasione delle Olimpiadi”.

“It’s true that there are problems related to concerns in all parts of the world, but there is also another kind of terrorism – he adds – political, done in the name of rights shared by all, yet I do not understand why they should be advanced only for the Olympics.”

Right before that paragraph, Pescante mentions Chechnya, where the Russians are fighting an ongoing war with separatists.  Pescante seems to be suggesting that Chechnya is actual terrorism, and then he pivots to the political form of terrorism when talking about President Obama and his “four lesbians.”

In fact, President Obama sent two openly-lesbian athletes, Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, as part of the US delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics. He also sent Brian Boitano, who has since come out as gay.  That’s 3 gay people overall, and 2 lesbians – at least openly.  Who are the other two lesbians?

Putting that aside, the more important issue is that the International Olympic Committee has been unfriendly to human rights since its inception.  And they handled the Russian gay crackdown, and Russia’s threats to jail gay Olympic athletes, horribly.  But to have a senior member of the International Olympic Committee accuse the US, President Obama, and gay rights advocates, of “terrorism,” is really beyond the pale.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


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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  • http://www.theangryfag.com/ TheAngryFag

    You forgot to mention that, at least the ones from the US, the athletes are also living in poverty.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    It’s as absurd as sending Black athletes to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

  • Strepsi

    Sadly, here the ruling class has overwhelming support by the ugly majority of the Russian people.

  • nicho

    Really? Tell me what their day jobs are.

  • ComradeRutherford

    So I was correct all along: the IOC chose Russia because they *wanted* to endorse oppression against homosexuals, just like they chose China to endorse slavery.

  • Drew2U

    …I don’t care how much you love him–Brian Boitano does NOT count as two lesbians.

  • dcinsider

    It seems like the IOC is working overtime to make themselves obsolete.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    Coming from a member of that collection of ball-less wonders known as the “IOC,” this is beyond ludicrous.

  • ckg1

    For all of the NHLers on the hockey teams, I’d agree. But there are quite a few Olympians who are in lower-profile sports who don’t get corporation support.

  • Ninong

    Pescante went on to say that “it is absurd that a country sends to Russia only four lesbians to prove that gay rights are being trampled in that country. Let them do so on other occasions. Enough of these manipulations: Games can not be the opportunity to claim and the stage rights that supports the sport on a daily basis. Luckily 2,700 years ago wars were also stopped for the Games. Now we witness acts of political terrorism. I will make a speech on this to the IOC.”

    “E’ assurdo che un Paese invii in Russia 4 lesbiche solo per dimostrare che in quel Paese i diritti dei gay vengono calpestati. Lo facciano in altre occasioni. Basta con queste strumentalizzazioni: i Giochi non possono essere l’occasione e il palcoscenico per rivendicare diritti che lo sport sostiene quotidianamente. E meno male che 2700 anni fa si fermavano anche le guerre per i Giochi. Ora assistiamo a atti di terrorismo politico. Su questo farò un intervento al Cio”.

  • Doug Watkins

    I never liked the Olympics. I never watch them. The IOC is a joke. They are as corrupt as any of our corporate titans. The Games are big business. Period.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    The games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily.

    Really? Sports supports these rights daily? Then how come what has been called the world’s most prestigious sporting event is being held in a country that can hardly be called a beacon of hope for LGBT people? Last I checked, sports and the rest of Russian society has been far from being supportive of LGBT rights. I think we all know that all too well.

    Calling out the Russians and the IOC for what they are – bigots only interested in money – is not terrorism.

    Pescante is nothing more than a pig-ignorant asshole. That’s the kindest thing I can say about him.

  • Anonymous

    Greed contributes to hate. So many parallels between the melee over resources in today’s world and the Great Depression.

  • 4th Turning

    The suspense is starting to keep me up at night-will be a total wreck by the opening icecapades.
    And I even had in mind a one man living room boycott protest swathed in a chic rainbow sari.
    Please google the latest from Nigeria-very troubling… Something weird is going on worldwide(?)
    I can’t yet get my head around.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    It’s made up of two kinds of people. Those who are so rich and so self-entitled, that they haven’t worked a real day in their lives, and they sit on the committee as some kind of hobby. You can probably figure them out easy enough, many of them have titles like “His Royal Highness”. The second group are former athletes who once they were no longer capable of competing decided to essentially become corporate lobbyists, and revel with glee in the instantaneous corruption of it.

  • devlzadvocate

    Agreed! How many lesbians does it take to terrorize the Russian Olympics? Just one, but we will send three more to make sure she is properly respected.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    The IOC never met an actual terroristic government it wasn’t happy to boot-lick, and they have never been able to stand any kind of criticism – implied or otherwise. Pescante was the guy who put himself in the middle of the hoopla North Korea tried to raise when it wasn’t permitted to co-host the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He’s was also among the most vocal of IOC members during the 1998 bribery scandal, declaring that it was only a few bad apples (10 people were expelled, and 10 others were sanctioned) and insisting that there was nothing corrupt with the committee itself.

  • Hue-Man

    Putting aside value judgments about the Olympics generally and the Sochi games in particular, there can be little doubt that the people named are well-qualified and will represent their country well. It’s not the business of the IOC to approve or disapprove of national delegations as much as they may want to control and profit from every aspect of the Games.

  • devlzadvocate

    I see the docufiction, Oliver Stone movie of the Sochi games now, “Four Lesbians”.

  • John Warren

    The Russians obviously haven’t heard what happened at The Stonewall Inn.

  • Butch1

    They seem to be bantering around this “political terrorism” name a bit too much lately. Everything has been labelled “terrorism” and the name is wearing thin. Our own government even labelled the Occupy Movement, “domestic terrorism” even though they knew it was a peaceful protest. If this is how our own government is going to play, how is a person or people with genuine complaints supposed to address them to a government who will not and does not listen to them?

  • http://www.derekwilliams.net Derek Williams

    Maybe this is one of those ‘light bulb’ jokes.

  • nicho

    I thought it was fermented fish sauce.

  • nicho

    The IOC is made up of the 0.0001%. Just look at the list.

  • nicho

    Or it could be that Billie Jean is twice the woman that Boitano is.

  • nicho

    Most olympians do not work for a living. They practice their sports for a living and are supported by corporations. They are not amateurs.

  • judybrowni

    Or maybe it’s meant as some sort of weird insult to Boitano: “You’re two lesbians, two lesbians!”

    For a number of Olympics, I wrote a live diary on Daily Kos Opening and Closing Ceremonies: How Gay?

    With gay being everything good and fun and campy: but I don’t have the heart this year.

    I may not even make it through the Ice dancing, this year

  • FLL

    Maybe the arithmetic reflects some kind of irritation formula. One gay man, Brian Boitano, causes the Kremlin as much irritation as two lesbians. So, according to the Kremlin’s math, gay men are twice as problematic as lesbians, and lesbians are twice as problematic as straight people. Strange math.

  • mirror

    I’m surprised they aren’t laying low about this point, hoping the civil rights “hoopla” was dying down in the final lead up to the games. The IOC, having said they don’t give a shit whether all the gays and lesbians have their kids taken away or get beat to death, waits til just before the games and shouts loudly, “We really mean it. And, if we didn’t make ourselves clear, we really really really hate you, too.”

  • judybrowni

    Somebody has an odd idea of addition: how do you get four lesbians out of two lesbians and a gay man?

    Does one gay man equal two lesbians?

    Only in Russia.

    I hope Boitano will be doing the color reporting for the ice dancing (which is the only thing I watch).

    Or somebody who could point out just how gay was ice dancing.

    I was going to skip that this year in protest, but I’d rather use my gaydar and shout “Gay! Gay!” at all the ice dance suspects.

  • FLL

    If they aren’t just plain homophobic, then the IOC is pissed off that criticism of Russia’s anti-gay pogrom will lower the profit margin for the Sochi Olympics. It’s either hate or money or some disturbing mixture of the two.

  • mirror

    Can’t stop laughing…. Brilliant!

  • FLL

    Calling a person or a nation “terrorist” is an internationally used method of demonization. Homophobes in other countries are now trying to demonize the United States by accusing the U.S. president and U.S. government of terrorist actions, which, according to them, consist of support for gay rights. I have a question. Do these people also accuse United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of being a terrorist for voicing outrage over the torture and arrest of gay men in Nigeria? (Here is the link to the article containing Ban Ki-moon’s statement.) Personally, I think that people who join the homophobes in demonizing the U.S. government for its support of gay rights are (in the words of one of our own Americablog commenters) disgusting Quislings.

  • FuzzyRabbit

    Mario Pescante has a much more vivid imagination than I do. No matter how hard I try I just can’t picture Brian Boitano and Billie Jean King as terrorists.

  • pappyvet

    Russia. They used to hold people who refused to join the “party” because not wanting to join was an obvious sign of mental illness. ” rights shared by all, ” really Comrade? Which ones?

    “It’s absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have (been established),” What does “A country like that” mean to this fellow?

    OK , how about 5 Lesbians 2 Gay men , 1 Transvesite and a Paul Linde impersonater?

    Paul? How do you mount butterflies?

    “With a teensy weensy step ladder.”

    This whole thing has gone way overboard. Why? Because we are not seen as rational human beings. we are “other.” I was in a committed relationship for decades. secret to most ,loved by a few.

    Why secret? Because even in this country it could have cost us dearly. I cant tell you how disgusted I am at the endless string of hatred put forth to do no less than destroy love. Don’t tell me its all about “unnatural sex.” Hetero people constantly screw around. They screw around on their wives and husbands,on their girlfriends and boyfriends in parking lots and dirty hotel rooms all over the world then go to their churches on Sunday and pray to their Male god to correct those sinning gays and lesbians.
    You want sick? No need to go to Russia ,Utah will do in a pinch.

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  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    That was my reaction too. He’s POd. Which means they’re POd.

  • pappyvet

    Snort…guffaw ! I needed that. ;]

  • DRoseDARs

    Having the honor of having known two Olympians (both swimmers quite a few Olympiads apart) and one hopeful gymnast (2 years behind me in high school who broke her leg on an ugly landing during qualifiers, costing her chance for the US team) your blanket statement on the participants makes me sad. Yes, for some events countries send their commercial athletes (you know, the ones that actually make a living competing in their sport… most do not) but the vast majority are people who have trained since a young age for the Games, many even skipping proper schooling to train, and afterwards are unlikely to make much money in their chosen sport… they settle into lives every bit as mundane as our own. Everyone who competes is a “professional athlete” so that’s a silly criticism. The Olympics are supposed to be the best of the best in the sports world. I enjoyed my 3 years of Track, but I did it for fun and would never have dreamed to train for the Olympics. It just didn’t interest me, but for these people the Olympics were a dream they chose to pursue so who are you or I to judge?

    The corporations, on the other hand, can go fuck themselves and the crass commercialization of the Games is just grotesque.

  • Indigo

    How very sad for ‘Mother Russia’ to be presented in such an ugly light by her current ruling class.

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

    Don’t know, but we have an anonymous comment down-voting bigot, so might could be!

  • jm2

    could the 4th be Miss Lindsey? hear tell she has a fabulous Sonja Heine muff from her movie “Sun Valley Serenade.”

  • jm2

    my Italian is a bit rusty, but i think Pescante means ‘piss ant’…

    other than that, he is a typical ignorant Italian bureaucrat (spellcheck wanted to put in ‘burro rat’ which works well also). these Italian men were emasculated many, many years, decades, centuries ago. they don’t leave their mother’s house until they are married & she usually picks the wife – a replica of themself…

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Who knew? I thought Pescante was a hot sauce.

  • AnthonyLook

    Senior Italian OIC official member Mario Pescante has the testicular fortitude of a limp linguini when it comes to civil rights or maybe he’s just a bigot.

  • 2patricius2

    IOC official: “I’ve got you, under my skin. I’ve got you, deep in the heart of me…” Good! Whoopee! We are getting under his skin and irritating him and getting a response. Did he just think they could get away with sweeping us under the rug, and telling us to be good girls and boys, and telling other countries to just defer to Putin and the IOC?

  • Monoceros Forth

    I almost hope that it’s a complete fiasco except that if it is, it will probably be a violent one.

    The Russian bribe must have been an enormous one, eh? There were good reasons almost from the start to abandon Sochi.

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

    I stopped watching decades ago, around the same time I willingly gave up all spectator sports, having had the revelation I find them incredibly boring, with nothing but phony derived emotions from being invested in them at all.

    Still, I comment in this instance regarding Sochi ’14 because the hypocrisy could not be more clear, how any sense of justice — especially for LGBTs — goes right out the window when there’s corporate money to be made.

  • clarknt67

    Again and again IOC reveals they are no friend to the LGBT community, whatever nonsense is in their Olympic charter.

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

    Hellfire, it just figures that they all presume one gay man equals two lesbian women! Misogyny I tells ya! Destroy the Patriarchy! Boo!!

    (snark tag intended in case such is needed)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yes, that was part of the problem. Ms. Boitano might be a bit surprised to hear the news.

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

    Four lesbians? Last I heard, it was two lesbians and Brian Boitano.

    (h/t Joe.My.God — http://www.joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/01/italian-ioc-member-slams-us-for-sending.html)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    You haven’t seen “cold” until you’ve met a ticked off queen ;-)

  • nicho

    The Olympics are a joke — a bunch of professional athletes pretending to be amateurs and mega corporations making billions of dollars off of it. Meanwhile, people sit in front of their TVs watching recorded events that were completed hours ago and thinking that there’s some sort of drama. Idiocy all around.

  • Anonymous

    By not saying anything against Sochi, they’d already made a political statement. They’ve just confirmed it with this follow-up.

  • pricknick

    I remember the cold war very well. The queer war is just beginning.

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