The best thing we can do is to refrain from contributing to the farce that Sochi embodies the best of humanity.
The Olympics, apart from being a spectacle of modern sport, are a way for world leaders to posture and politicize competition between athletes who really couldn’t give a shit one way or another about the post-Cold War geopolitical climate. So, when the Russian Diet passed a ban on “gay propaganda” seven months ahead of the Sochi games, it was just continuing a time honored tradition of politically framing the Olympics. After all, this isn’t even the only issue that’s made Sochi, the city that isn’t even ready to host a way to make a cheap political statement
President Obama’s support for the LGBT community in the summer of 2012 was a major step to be sure, but he hasn’t taken steps in his legislative agenda since re-election to push equality for the LGBT community, presumably because 1. it has no chance of passing the Republican House, and 2. there hasn’t been much movement even from Democrats to define LGBT issues as federal issues. Russia’s move to ban any mention of homosexuality, then, gave President Obama and liberals a way to make another statement without doing much to ensure equality here. So, in response to the barbaric laws that Putin and his allies passed, Obama named two lesbian sports icons, tennis legend Billie Jean King and two-time Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow, to the American Sochi delegation, and didn’t send any top-ranking American officials. Good public relations move? Yes. But it doesn’t change the fundamental fact that we’re choosing to participate in their Olympics. In effect, we’re condoning their human rights’ abuses because we don’t think it’s a good look to keep our athletes from competing in the pinnacle event of their sport.
In a way, they’re right. It’s not fair to the athletes to boycott the Games, because at least in spirit, they’re supposed to be non-political and anti-bullshit. But the reality is that they are. So, yes – I agree with the decision to send them to the Olympics. But that doesn’t mean I’ll watch them.
It’s a nearly non-existent dent in the money that NBC’s going to be making from my decision to not watch the Olympics, and it will make a whopping difference of $0 to Russia. That’s not the point. I’m not going to watch because it doesn’t feel right to. It doesn’t feel right to be supporting the Olympics (Russia’s futile attempts to make their money back from hosting the Games) while gay kids are being beaten nearly to death all over Russia, and then are told by police that they should have expected it because they’re gay.
If that’s not enough reason for you, then here’s another one, from Jezebel‘s Erin Gloria Ryan:
Sochi’s got a stray issue, too, but some of it is self-induced. Some of the dogs that now wander the streets don’t have places to live because the Olympic organizing committee forced their owners to clear out of their homes to make way for the Games. And now, tame, mostly-harmless pups are being rounded up and killed, in the spirit of global unity and competition or something. A billionaire has stepped in to try to save them, but who knows how many were rounded up before they could be saved.
That’s right: caught up in the Olympic spirit, the city of Sochi and the Russian government kicked a bunch of people out of their homes and are now killing their dogs.
Russia’s laws and policies are a shining example of the lengths we’ll go to in order to convince ourselves sports are some untouchable entity that only explores the upsides of the human condition, because it’s utter bullshit. My only hope is that the Sochi Games have a Jesse Owens moment where a gay athlete wins a gold medal to rub Putin’s nose in it. But the best thing we can do, as men and as human beings who care about other human beings, is to refrain from contributing to the farce that Sochi embodies the best of humanity. It’s a lie, and it’s in clear violation of the Olympic Charter that Google so eloquently displayed under their Sochi Doodle:
“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
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