It’s illegal to be gay in Russia and you can be arrested (and most probably beat up) for any gay activities or promotion of gaydom.
Over the last two weeks there has been a lot of debate about taking Olympic action against Russia for the country’s anti-gay laws. Some say athletes should march into the Opening Ceremony holding rainbow flags, but that would likely result in disqualifications for said athletes, based on the Olympic Charter (rule 50, if you’re looking). Others are putting together letters of petition asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take a stand against the Russian laws, but a simple public statement by the IOC would get folded up and used as a coaster in the Kremlin. Many have called for a boycott of the Olympics by countries like the U.S., but boycotts don’t directly hit the Russians. Asking the United States and other nations to boycott the Olympics simply punishes 19-year-old athletes, not Vladamir Putin. Buying Ketel One instead of Stolichnaya might take a swipe at a business owner in Moscow or a factory worker in St. Petersburg, but it’s just a pesky mosquito to the Russian government. And caviar? Who eats it anyway?
To make a real statement, to send a message to the Russians that these laws cannot stand, the IOC has to go a step further. Instead of the rest of the world refusing to go to Sochi, there’s one step that the IOC can take that will land a wake-up slap on the face of the Kremlin: Ban Russia from competing in their own Winter Olympic Games.
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