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.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | 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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46 Responses to “Senior IOC member raises specter of taking Winter Olympics away from Russia”

  1. None says:

    I am Russian and I am straight. I am ashamed of my people, my government and my country. Most Russians are too arrogant to realize what is happening. Most are scared. Just like in Germany in 1936 all they want is lead a quiet life where they can make ends meet. And if it means closing your eyes on everything else, this is their choice.
    The best you can do is: if you are going to Sochi, bring your rainbow flag and rainbow clothes. If you are NOT GOING, tell the whole world why, especially the Russian government.

  2. lazerhaze says:

    No. Not like that. No sports. I don’t have that pathetic desperation that leads to a singular focus on being better than everyone else, like athletes do.

  3. Moderator3 says:

    I can get both to load. Bill, it may be the browser you are using.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, it loads for me. Try Google searching the headline or try this link:

  5. Bill Steffenhagen says:

    I want to post it on my Facebook. Link doesn’t go to it and I couldn’t find it.

  6. Lucas Young says:

    cooperative activities like Hockey?

  7. Westerner says:

    As a strait Canadian I say welcome to anybody of the LGBTQ community. You are more than welcome here! We would LOVE to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

  8. FLL says:

    Um… Bill Perdue and I have been known to have some differences regarding specific strategy. (LOL.)

  9. lazerhaze says:

    I’ve been boycotting the Olympics for the past 20 years. i’m not about to break tradition now. I don’t give money for corporate cash grabs (which is all that the olympics is) nor do I finance the sporting endorsement culture. I have little respect for people who dedicate their lives to something as selfish, narcissistic, and egomaniacal as sporting. I don’t appreciate competitiveness in general. I prefer cooperative activities where everyone cooperates to achieve a goal.

  10. lazerhaze says:

    Poor and the disabled seem to work well as scapegoats in America lately.

  11. Anonymous says:

    You’re right…I always forget the home stats ;(

  12. Zorba says:

    I don’t know who the he!! down-rated you for this, FLL, but you were absolutely correct in your statement. Kudos!

  13. CattyNineTails says:

    The International Olympic Committee has a simple choice: either change venues or violate its charter.

    “In detail the role of the IOC, according to the Olympic Charter, is … To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement …”

  14. arcadesproject says:

    The Olympics need to pick up and leave Russia and do it now. This crap is intolerable.

  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    Boycotts and divestment campaigns against NBC/Comcast, Coke, McDonald etc will have a much greater impact on the finances of companies enabling bigotry.

  16. Bill_Perdue says:

    That is very good news but I doubt it’ll happen. What we can count on is that Putin’s administration will give them plenty of rope if they need an excuse.

  17. TheAngryFag says:

    The IOC is losing credibility. It’s about money coming from whatever country bribes them the most and rims them the best.

    ThinkProgress is reporting that now the IOC is threatening athletes who criticize Russia. I guess standing up for what’s right and who you are is “political” these days.

    The IOC can go fuck itself slowly with a chainsaw.

  18. NowAnAgnostic says:

    Television viewers = MONEY ($$). Doesn’t that concept violate the IOC Charter? After all, they say it is supposed to be all about sports and the athletes.

  19. A_nonymoose says:

    He’s not doing anything a whole lot different from the way minorities and immigrants (illegal and otherwise) are treated in this country; need to make the populace look the other way while you’re robbing them blind? Give’em someone to hate!

  20. emjayay says:

    Yeah, and then they allow all kinds of wierd little recently made up stuff. Particularly if it involves women wearing bikinis. Yup, teevee ratings. The Olympics should go back to their origins. Only naked men all shiny with olive oil.

  21. BeccaM says:

    And 4 out of 5 Americans believe in angels.

    I couldn’t find a number for how many Americans believe there’ll be alien contact in the next 50 years, but 1 in 3 believe in extraterrestrial life.

  22. Anonymous says:

    For perspective:

    1 in 4 Russians Expect Alien Contact Within Next 50 Years

  23. slideguy says:

    Exactly. If this weren’t damaging their brand and threatening to cost them money, they wouldn’t care in the least.

  24. slideguy says:

    The IOC couldn’t care less about gay rights. They’re the ones that sued the Gay Olympics to get them to rename the competition. They are all about money and power, and this move on the part of the Russians looks to damage their brand and cost them money.

  25. FLL says:


  26. runfastandwin says:

    It’s too late already. If the IOC doesn’t move the games I won’t be watching.

  27. karmanot says:

    Well done FLL

  28. BeccaM says:

    The anti-gay laws are half of the picture. The other half is Russian authorities’ tolerance and encouragement of the neo-Nazi anti-gay lynch mobs.

    I’ve said this before: A big part of what’s going on and remains unaddressed is the inherent falseness of Russian beliefs regarding sexual orientation. In the West, solid majorities know and believe that being gay or trans isn’t something you choose, it’s not inherently immortal, and it doesn’t happen because pedophiles ‘recruit’ children. Sure, some hate-mongers like Bryan Fischer and his ilk believe it, but they’re increasingly marginalized and ridiculed.

    In Russia, four out of five people believe those lies. And they’re a people culturally predisposed towards xenophobia and scapegoating. After all, they’ve been doing it since the Tsars.

    Unfortunately, the lies themselves are going unaddressed, as if all Russia needs to do is find some way to assure gay Olympics participants (and visitors, and gay-supporting straight folks) they won’t be kidnapped and murdered by their anti-gay mobs. And won’t be arrested, imprisoned under harsh conditions, and deported by the authorities.

    Moving the games should be just the start.

  29. I think the boycott was just one of the many factors involved. If it didn’t happen we’d still be where we are now. The boycott really only hit the gay community, most of my straight friends didn’t even know about it, but they did know about what was going on in Russia.

  30. FLL says:

    In the half year left until February, Russian neo-fascist vigilantes can perpetrate any number of kidnappings, tortures and killings, which will be front-page international news. I think Putin was foolish enough to think that the current pogrom he unleashed is just a nice, tame genie that will only do his bidding to bolster his popularity. Putin miscalculated. The genie is uncontrollable, and there’s no way Putin can put it back in the bottle again without giving the Russian court system the green light to overturn the new law as unconstitutional. There’s no way to control the situation unless Putin thinks he can station a policeman at every restaurant table and every hotel lobby in Sochi. If the Norwegian IOC member, Gerhard Heiberg, can convince the rest of the IOC to take the Games out of Sochi, fine. Otherwise, this looks like it’s going to be a big, bloody, international mess. Not that there haven’t been any of those before. Remember the Yugoslav Civil War in the 90s?

  31. lynchie says:

    He says “the IOC should stay out of russian politics”. In other words for 3 or 4 weeks do nothing but after we have our games do what you like to your citizens. Why not hold the games in the same place each time. Having them in 3rd world countries means the World Bank gets involved with huge loans and loan shark interest rates as well as the WB invoking how to run the country. Have two sites for winter OIympics and two for Summer then this shit goes away.

  32. jomicur says:

    The boycott served to bring the Russian laws to wide public notice, in a way that nothing else had managed to do. ALL of the high-profile public discussion of the Russian laws, NYT editorials and suchlike, has come in the wake of the boycott. Before that, it was pretty much us talking about it among ourselves on blogs.

    I just saw a story about this–including its possible effect on the Olympics–on the noon news on the local NBC channel. Do you think NBC or any of its affiliates would even be mentioning the Russian horrors without pressure from our community? And the single most prominent bit of pressure has been the boycott.

  33. usagi says:

    They eliminated wrestling because they claim there’s no television audience for it. This is bullshit. Wrestling is more widespread than soccer. I’m sure there’s an exception somewhere, but essentially every country in the world has some form of wrestling. Most people are unaware of the rules and scoring, but how many people outside of Canada knew what curling was 10 years ago? The IOC and NBC could fix that in a half hour if they chose to do so and create an audience for the sport (hell, the narrative of it being the original Olympic sport is baked right in). But no one wants to advertise during wrestling, so no money to be made.

    Remember that for any other lofty narrative you may hear, the Olympics are about one thing and one thing only: money. Lots and lots of money. Discussing it in any other terms is a distraction. NBC and the IOC care about money and nothing else.

  34. Indigo says:

    Psychic osmosis. :-)

  35. Indigo says:

    It’s already past time. Do it!

  36. nicho says:

    And how did the boycott bring this about?

  37. cole3244 says:

    the ioc is throwing crumbs to the masses while they collect the profits.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Athletes have already been kidnapped and murdered at the Olympics. The IOC knows people still watch, so they sweep it under the rug. They actually want the Olympics to be in developing or 3rd world countries. They claim it’s to “boost their economy” or “give them a chance.” In reality, it’s so they can get cheap labor.
    Maybe they eliminated wrestling to save $$ too?

  39. Anonymous says:

    Most of the people who initially said that had an ulterior motive.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Russian MP Pushes Law Allowing The Public Whipping of Gays

    (I posted this already but it hasn’t gotten much recognition yet.)

  41. usagi says:

    Considering the IOC in their wisdom decided to eliminate wrestling from the roster of Olympic sports, “corrupt” is perhaps on of the kindest adjectives available.
    I’m seeing a lot more of the “oh, it’s impossible to move the games so close” meme this week. That’s bullshit, of course, it’s eminently possible, just extremely expensive and inconvenient.

  42. iamlegion says:

    If vocal objections – by people with influence – are not made _now_, it is an absolute certainty that the scumbags in Russia will become more bold and brazen by the day, until it gets to the point that any promise of protection of Olympic athletes & visitors (to say nothing of regular Russian citizens) isn’t even a joke any more. Pressure – serious pressure with a willingness to impose serious consequences – must be applied _now_.

  43. AdmNaismith says:

    ‘One senior IOC member even suggested taking the games away from Russia if no solution is found.’

    Good, they should. And it should be done this week. Give it to someone who already hosted it and reuse those already built facilities

    And they should never have been given to China or Russia in the first place.
    The IOC is so corrupt. Having these places promise not to be political shitholes for three weeks (or not, in Russia’s case) is hardly keeping with the so-called ‘Olympic Spirit’. Or maybe this is what the Olympics Spirit is really about.

  44. jomicur says:

    And yet there are still people who argue that the boycott will have no effect. Jesus.

  45. microdot says:

    I think that would be the most positive outcome of this obscene Russian inhuman, monstrous attack on basic human rights…I support it! What ever it takes in the short run or long run, I support it!

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