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2,870 Athletes Attend Sochi Olympics And The Silence Is Deafening, But The Hypocrisy Is Not

Enjoy the Silence

 

Many athletes made clear before traveling to Sochi how unhappy they were about how the LGBT citizens of Russia are being abused, particularly with its law banning gay “propaganda.”

But now in that they are actually in Sochi, the silence is deafening from the 2,870 Olympians at their venues and especially at Friday nights opening ceremony when that same day over 60 Russian LGBT activist were arrested and some of them beaten by Russian police for standing up for their human rights

Now that they are actually in Russia many Olympians and coaches are now citing multiple reasons why they feel these Olympics are neither the place nor time – at least not early on in the 17-day games – to make a stand.

We’re all so focused on the task at hand,” said U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner. In the United States, Wagner spoke eloquently against the Russian law. In Sochi, she still is happily and patiently answering questions on it but not bringing it up herself. She said she has also “discussed it with some athletes.”

“We have a great platform to really speak out about what we believe in, but also we’re here to compete,” she said. “I did my part as an athlete, and did enough to make myself feel good at the end of the day.”

Skating coach Brian Orser, who is gay, said: “I’ve avoided most of these questions about it. I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite but I also just want to be here for my athletes, just be here doing my job.  ” he said. “So I am kind of torn.”

Some athletes worry that taking a strong stand will draw swarms of reporters, which could break their focus.

I just don’t want to stir the waters and don’t want to comment on any side of it. Then that’s something that can turn into a distraction if you get hounded by the media,” said cross-country skier Jessica Diggins.

“So I’m keeping myself out of that.”

Then we have bromantic five-time Olympic skiing medalist Bode Miller who is competing at his fifth games and who in interview with the Associated Press while still in America before the games Miller didn’t hold back any punches when asked about Russia’s anti-gay laws saying:

‘I think it’s absolutely embarrassing that there’s countries and there’s people who are that intolerant and that ignorant,” Asking an athlete to go somewhere and compete and be a representative of a philosophy and … then tell them they can’t express their views or they can’t say what they believe, I think is pretty hypocritical or unfair.”

Now that Miller is in Russia competing his tune has changed:

“I don’t really feel like the Olympics is a place for that kind of politics,” said U.S. skier Bode Miller, competing at his fifth games. “It’s a place for sports and a place for cultures to kind of put aside their differences and compete.”

“It’s easy to get caught up in all the other stuff and forget what the Olympics is about.” 

(Bode you are hot but you are definitely a hypocrite.)

And what about other countries athletes?

Well Canada our ally to the north a country which has a very progressive LGBT rights stance don’t want their athletes involved at all.

“We don’t participate in any political debates and any controversy and anything else but sport,” said Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut.

Canadian Olympians get “a lot of training” on how to answer reporters and are made aware of any trigger points, said Mike Slipchuk, who heads Canada’s figure skating team.

“They’re here to answer questions about their performance and what they’re doing here,” he said.

But on gay rights, “wars” and “everything,” he said: “We’re not here to be a spokesperson for those things.”

But there is still a chance some brave athlete might stand up and say and or do something by the time the Olympic are over according to outspoken LGBT straight ally and  Hudson Taylor, a wrestling coach at Columbia University who has traveled to Sochi to campaign.  Taylor said he knows of “a handful of athletes who are interested in speaking out.” and that once athletes are done competing, gloves could come off, especially if these are their last Olympics.

Now that’s Olympic courage and bravery.

 

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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4 thoughts on “2,870 Athletes Attend Sochi Olympics And The Silence Is Deafening, But The Hypocrisy Is Not”

  1. Talk about hypocrisy! No one seems to recall the hostility toward the raised fist human rights protests of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City (the year of the original NYC Stonewall Riots).
    From Wikipedia:
    “U.S.A. athlete Tommie Smith won the 200 meter race with a world-record time of 19.83 seconds. Australia’s Peter Norman finished second with a time of 20.06 seconds, and the U.S.A.’s John Carlos won third place with a time of 20.10 seconds. After the race was completed, the three went to the podium for their medals to be presented by David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter. The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty.[3] Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”[4] All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia’s White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.[5] Sociologist Harry Edwards, the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games; reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on 16 October 1968[2] were inspired by Edwards’ arguments.[6]

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Avery Brundage deemed it to be a domestic political statement unfit for the apolitical, international forum the Olympic Games were supposed to be. In response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the two athletes being expelled from the Games.[citation needed]

    A spokesman for the IOC said it was “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.”[3] Brundage, who was president of the United States Olympic Committee in 1936, had made no objections against Nazi salutes during the Berlin Olympics. He argued that the Nazi salute, being a national salute at the time, was acceptable in a competition of nations, while the athletes’ salute was not of a nation and therefore unacceptable.[10]

    Brundage had been one of the United States’ most prominent Nazi sympathisers even after the outbreak of the Second World War,[11] and his removal as president of the IOC had been one of the three stated objectives of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.[12]

    As late as 2013, the official IOC website stated that “Over and above winning medals, the black American athletes made names for themselves by an act of racial protest.”[13].” — End of quoted material.

    “USA, USA, USA,” is chanted with national chauvinistic pride in words but not in deeds as our American brothers and sisters continue to be bashed and murdered across this land of the immense glass house as boulders of vitriol and hyperbole are smugly thrown at Russia and its President by snarky holier-than-thou “activists”.

  2. When it comes down to it, it’s cowardly. To say this ”isn’t the platform” is cowardly. It’s all about your life long dream to have a MEDAL. To prove you’re the best at something; while at the same time people are beaten for who they are. Your actions speak louder than words. You can cry foul all the way to get your gold. None of you deserve endorsements. None of you represent what America is (well not the America that is in the midst of change). Rest on your sentiment of what the games symbolize while others rest in hospitals recuperating. disgusting. America’s desire to compete and show the world ”we’re the best” is in everything this country does as a nation. The good the American people do in time of tragedy vs how well government is there to help people during a disaster is a perfect example of just how different we as a people are compared to US as a nation and perceived by the rest of the world. I have no doubt we’re good people, we’re evolved people (for the most part) and our Milenia’s will be the ones to turn the beat around. Afterall, they’re the generation that supposidily has nothing to lose. So they’ll go for the changes. The games should have been moved ASAP. People’s ego’s should have been put in check and no one should have attended. I’m sorry that your son or daughter got held up in a game where they may be best in show, but because of inhumane treatment, lies, discrimination, hatred, bigotry, lies and should have opted out. That’s what leaders do. They sacrifice their personal achievements from the greater good. If no body showed up, who was gonna play? and keep it real..they’re still JUST games. They don’t represent people coming together. For if that were true, we wouldn’t be having this conversation…

    1. “Talk is cheap” you say, and look at who is talking telling everyone else to fall on their swords and sacrifice their lives for you? I lived thru the 80s and protested and picketed and was gay bashed and left for dead in a dumpster. I was lucky because two other gay men were murdered and the Fresno police never lifted a finger to solve the crimes. I worked with Act Up and marched with Queer Nation in the 90s and I founded a Stonewall Democrats chapter in 2001.

      Its easy to get your panties in a bunch and point fingers of blame at another nation or those who you think should bend to do your bidding. If you think protest is required then why don’t you get your sorry ass on a plane and fly to Russia in solidarity with our brothers and sisters? Oh, that’s right, you have nothing to risk unlike the careers of the athletes who you demean.

      1. I marched with ACT-UP also. And please feel free if you would like to donate to the website so I could afford to travel to Russia I would. Meanwhile those who get all the money like HRC get nothing.

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