In response to broadcaster Stephen Fry’s open letter, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Coe, British Olympic Association chairman, have rejected Fry’s call for a boycott of the Sochi Games over Russia’s treatment of LGBT people.
Cameron – who recently supported equal marriage legislation against the wishes of a majority of his Conservative caucus – wrote on Twitter that “I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than [boycott] the Winter Olympics.”
Former Olympian Lord Coe, meanwhile, noted that Britain did not join the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games, at which Coe won gold. “[Boycotts] damage only one group of people and that is the athletes,” the British Olympic chief said. Coe made his comments at the World Athletics Championships, coincidentally held in Moscow.
Cameron’s and Coe’s statements come one day before hundreds of Londoners gathered near the Prime Minister’s official residence in Downing Street to protest Russian’s anti-gay “propaganda” laws. Speaking at the protest, Fry accepted that a boycott of the Sochi games was unlikely but called on athletics to make a public gesture of solidarity at the Games to “take the sweetness of victory out of Putin’s mouth.”
Russia has earned scorn from international leaders over new federal legislation banning distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors” and failing to stop numerous violent attacks on LGBT activists in recent months.