I suggested the other day that the best protest against the Russian government’s terrible new anti-gay law is for a huge portion of the athletes at the Olympics to make a statement during the opening ceremonies. But the IOC is suggesting that they would not tolerate such an action:
The International Olympic Committee will likely stop any athlete who shows solidarity for LGBT Russians at the Sochi Games, GSN can reveal.
Gay Star News asked the global Olympic bosses what they were planning to do to ‘make sure the LGBT community in Russia can have a visible, proud, safe presence at the games’.
But the IOC replied the games were not the place for ‘political’ statements. Any participant who steps out of line may be punished, not by the Russians but by Olympic chiefs themselves…
Under rule 50 of the IOC’s charter: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.’
GSN had asked what the global Olympic chiefs thought about plans for athletes to wear rainbow pins or hold hands during the opening and closing ceremonies…But their spokeswoman told us: ‘Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.
‘This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary.
‘In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done.’
The message is clear, athletes, coaches and others who step out of line – for example by wearing rainbow pins – would not just risk arrest from Russians, but also punishment from the IOC.
This is a real problem. But it underscores the importance of having as many athletes as possible involved in any such protest. The more there are, the less likely any action can or would be taken by either the Russian government or the IOC. They can’t very well suspend or arrest hundreds of athletes.