Senior IOC member raises specter of taking Winter Olympics away from Russia

An interesting quote buried in an AP piece yesterday about Russia’s brutal crackdown on its gay and trans citizens.  Apparently, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee just raised the specter of the IOC taking the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi away from Russia.


More from AP, via the Denver Post:

In the meantime, the International Olympic Committee is coming under pressure to take a tougher line and demand that Russia respect the Olympic Charter’s rules against discrimination.One senior IOC member even suggested taking the games away from Russia if no solution is found.

“They have accepted the words of the Olympic Charter and the host city contract, so either they respect it or we have to say goodbye to them,” said Gerhard Heiberg of Norway.

Heiberg, who organized the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer and is chairman of the IOC marketing commission, said the IOC should stay out of domestic Russian politics but must be firm on wat happens during the Sochi Games.

The problem for the IOC, and the world, is that this goes far beyond the Sochi Winter Olympics and two weeks in February of 2014.

First off, good luck assuring anyone that the gay, trans, and lgbt-friendly, Olympic athletes are going to be safe.  How do you assure, and ensure, such a thing?  We’re to take the word of a virulent anti-gay country, with virulently anti-gay leaders, with a growing history of violence against gay and trans people, that they’ll stop hating us for the two weeks of the Winter Olympics?  Really.  How exactly does that work?

gay-russian-nazis-hitlerEspecially with the fascist neo-Nazi skinheads that the Russian government has at best ignored, and at worst enabled.  How exactly does the IOC guarantee that Russia’s neo-Nazis aren’t going to attack, or kidnap, any gay, trans, or LGBT-friendly athletes or visitors to the Sochi Games?  Are we going to take the Hilter-devotees’ word for it that they’ll play nice for 2 weeks?

And how exactly do you convince the Russian people, who have been whipped up into an anti-gay frenzy by Vladmir Putin’s henchmen, that they’re not supposed to act on the nudge-nudge-wink-wink suggestion that gays are somehow sub-human, that comes from the state-controlled media, during those two weeks in February?

Harvey Fierstein is right.  The situation has gotten too far out of control to accept some perverted promise to stop kidnapping, beating and killing gay and trans people for two weeks during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – thus admitting that it’s okay to kidnap, beat and kill gay and trans people the other 50 weeks of the year.  There is no choice left but for Russia to repeal it’s horrifically anti-gay law, or Russia loses the Olympics. Here’s the statement Harvey released this weekend:

“I was glad to see President Obama upset by the abuse the LGBT community is suffering at the hands of the Russian government, but outrage is not enough.

These are NOT bullies saying unkind things in a schoolyard. These are heads of state enacting a national policy of bigotry aimed at limiting the freedoms of an entire minority.

Finally the IOC realized that the Games cannot go on while these anti-gay laws stand. But suspension of these laws for two weeks is not enough.

Our lives, our families, our freedom are endangered while laws like these are tolerated anywhere in the world. We demand the repeal of Putin’s propagandistic legislation.

We now put the world community on notice that we are no longer available to be your scapegoats.


Russia simply isn’t safe for gay and trans people, nor for anyone who dares think, or say, that gay and trans people are human beings.

It was easy for Vladimir Putin to make gay and trans people Russia’s “new Jews,” to give the Russian people an enemy they can really hate, so that they can forget what a lousy leader Vladimir Putin really is.  But it’s quite another thing entirely to call off the angry mob once you’ve given them torches and pitchforks and told them the monster is at the gates.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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