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Don't Boycott: Ban Russia From Their Own Winter Olympics, says Cyd Zeigler
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.
Why debate the exclusion of American, Canadian, British and other athletes when it's Russia that's in violation here? The new Russian law is in clear and direct conflict with the Olympic Charter, creating a system of discrimination that forces LGBT athletes into a life of fear and isolation. "The practice of sport is a human right," the charter reads. "Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." That's not just an isolated sentence in the midst of dozens of charter pages; it's right up front, in the section called "Fundamental Principles of Olympism." That's "fundamental" as in "essential to the existence of the Olympics." And the Russian law doesn't just violate one word or one clause of the Olympic Charter; it violates the entire statement. The law doesn't just punish Russian athletes; it subjects competitors from every nation to discrimination and flies in the face of the Olympic spirit.
While an Olympic ban for Russia may sound like a mountain to climb, it's been done before, and for similar reasons. In 1964 the IOC banned South Africa from Olympic competition because of the nation's apartheid policies. Despite the South Africans claiming that they would add black athletes to their Olympic team that year, the IOC demanded that the South African government publicly renounce all racial discrimination in sport. The white-majority government of South Africa refused, and they were banned from Olympic participation until 1992. Similarly, Rhodesia was banned from the Olympics just four days before the 1972 Munich Games began, because of anti-black racist policies in the nation. That nation, which collapsed in 1979, never competed in an Olympic Games. Afghanistan was banned from the 2000 Summer Games because of human-rights violations against women under the Taliban; they were readmitted four years later upon the inclusion of female Olympians. Germany was banned from several Games for their involvement in World War I and World War II. And most recently, India was banned from the Olympics late last year after the IOC rejected the outcome of Indian Olympic Association elections. When India held new elections this spring with a different outcome, the IOC lifted the ban. If political elections are enough to get a nation banned from Olympic competition, a ban for the criminalization of an entire class of people should be a no-brainer.
There's growing support within the IOC for doing something. On Sept. 10 the organization will elect its new president. One of the six main candidates, Puerto Rico's Richard Carrión, has opened the door to action. "We should use all the avenues possible for influence and diplomacy with Russian officials, so that this legislation will not create a problem for our athletes," Carrión said last week. But even if they were able to convince Russia to carve out a "bubble" in the law to exempt all of Sochi for two weeks, Russian LGBT athletes would face arrest as soon as the Olympics ended. The IOC's action should seek to overturn the law, and banning Russia from the Olympics is the best way to accomplish that.
Unlike other suggestions, the repercussions of an Olympic ban would have a ripple effect throughout Russia. While the Russians would love an American boycott of the Games -- more medals for them -- being banned from competition at their own Games would help drive public sentiment. Instead of asking our athletes to carry messages that would fall on deaf Russian ears, it would drive Russian Olympic hopefuls to speak out to their own government.
Just the threat of these kinds of bans have had a direct influence in the past, most recently on the 2012 Games. After the ban of Afghanistan, calls swelled in 2008 for Olympic bans of Saudi Arabia and Qatar due to the nations' failure to include women on their Olympic teams. Four years later, Saudi Arabian and Qatar included a total of six women on their Olympic teams; these were the first women ever to represent these two nations at the Games.
Calling for a Russian Olympic ban also puts the onus for action squarely where it belongs: on the IOC. The IOC chose Russia to host the Games. Human-rights violations aren't new to the former Soviet state. This is their problem, they need to fix it, and they need to send a clear, strong message. That message would also put other nations on notice. While many countries with severe anti-gay policies -- like Nigeria and Cameroon -- won't compete in Sochi, they certainly have plans for the Summer Games in 2016. Banning the Russians now would effect change across continents.
You can dump gallons of Stoli into the gutter of Santa Monica Blvd. You can get every Western nation to boycott the Winter Games. You can have every American Olympian send a message to Putin that they disagree with the Russian anti-gay laws. The IOC can make a big statement against anti-gay laws on every TV station in the world. Every bit of that will fall on deaf ears in the Kremlin. Instead, ban Russia from their own Games. They'll get that message loud and clear.
- This is true, and could be done.
- Cyd Zeigler is a GOProud fanboy.
- this would be awesome...instead of affecting all the athletes from the other countries, it would only have and effect on one country's athletes.
- Don't forget Sochi is a hop, skip, and jump from Chechnya and Dagestan. Putin would unleash the hounds and ski jumping, freestyle skiing, and pairs figure skating would add skeet shooting skills. From the audience. Airborne athletes blown away by shoulder-to-air missiles.
They're that crazy.
- This is genius, in its simplicity, and effect. IOC, do it!
- The IOC is more fascist that Russia. Have you ever seen their membership list?
- Never in a million years would the IOC ban the host country. Y'all on crack.
- P.S. If your argument made any sense, pretty much the entire Muslim world and most of Africa should be banned as well. Not so much an issue for this Olympics, but a very big deal for Rio.
- rightwing attention whore Cyd's pie-in-the-sky fantasy, and every Stoli boycott, just got upstaged:
(Reuters) - Russian businessmen and officials close to President Vladimir Putin have stolen up to $30 billion from funds intended for preparations for next year's Sochi Winter Olympics, according to a report released on Thursday by opposition leaders.
Putin, who has staked his reputation on a successful Games, faces criticism over allegations of corruption and costs overruns that have pushed up the price tag for the event to $50 billion - more than quadruple initial estimates, making them the most costly Olympics ever.
"In preparing for the Olympics $25 to $30 billion was stolen," Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov told reporters.
The report, written by Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk, another Putin critic, alleges that the most expensive sports facilities built for the Games were commissioned without competition or public tenders.
"Only oligarchs and companies close to Putin got rich," he wrote on his blog. "The absence of fair competition, cronyism... have led to a sharp increase in the costs and to the poor quality of the work to prepare for the Games."
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on the criticism, saying he had not seen the report.
Russian contractors and others who have been involved in the building boom to prepare for the Sochi Games have complained of widespread corruption, but government officials have dismissed such reports and defended the cost overruns.
Comparing Sochi's price tag with that of previous Games, the report says that the final cost of Olympics over the last 16 years was on average about twice the amount initially planned.
By contrast, it says the Sochi Games - which Russia said in 2007 would cost about $12 billion - is more than four times pricier than planned.
But it does not provide specific detail of how or from which construction projects funds allegedly were embezzled.
"The fact is that almost everything that is related to the cost problems and abuses in preparation for the Olympic Games was carefully concealed and continues to be covered up by the authorities," Nemtsov wrote on his blog.
- Can you even begin to imagine the graft, corruption, and crime that has taken place in Russia to get these Olympics off the ground? I'd be terrified if I were an athlete that events like sledding, etc., would be poorly designed, badly executed, and life threateningly dangerous in terms of construction and safety.
- This is a fascinating idea.
Too bad it won't happen.
- Remember when Russia was the USSR and they had all that cool propaganda, and REJECTION OF RELIGION, which all sane humans arrive at eventually if they live long enough and aware? They were respectable.
Now their government embraces a STATE RELIGION that calls for the beatings and murders of anyone who speaks glowingly about a person of the same gender. I hate the hyperbolic "X = Hitler" statements, but man: Putin *wants to* = Hitler, no doubt about that.
Only want to know why the world is ready to let it happen. And concerned that the first targets on both sides will be us.
- If they are going to ban athletes from countries that sanction human rights violations, there won't be anybody competing.
- [quote]Afghanistan was banned from the 2000 Summer Games because of human-rights violations against women under the Taliban....
Most of the muslim countries should be banned now for the same reasons. Oh and let's include India and China for female infanticide and sex-selective abortion.
- This should be done. It won't be.
- The sad fact is that Russia is a ridiculously troubled country, which if it were the Central African Republic, wouldn't be so disastrous. But instead it's the largest country in the world with a hefty population of poorly educated bigots. You better watch out, Earth. Russia is going to be your doom.
- IOC doesn't have the balls to confront the Russians.
- The US walks a fine line in the arena of human rights. Making it very difficult for the government to take any action.
We have major arms deals with Saudi Arabia - laws not that dissimilar to Russia's.
Even here in the country the death penalty is legal - hardly a well respected position in global human rights community.
I'm not sure how many countries would be left to compete, including the US, if Ziegler's metric was used.
Citizens can take action. I think we should. Support the athletes but boycott every advertiser.
- Russian cunt calls Swedish athletes disrespectful for rainbow support for gay people in Russia.
She says Russians believe women should be with boys and boys with women and Russia has never had this problem people started spreading gay propaganda.
One hopes all Russians really aren't this fucking stupid and homophobic... but...
- [quote]Remember when Russia was the USSR and they had all that cool propaganda, and REJECTION OF RELIGION, which all sane humans arrive at eventually if they live long enough and aware? They were respectable.
Someone forgot to take her Haldol this morning.
- Talk about this ban must really upset the Russians. They thought the Olympics would bring them good publicity around the globe but the winter games are taking a back seat to the human rights drama.
- Ethiopian cunt moves to Sweden, runs for Sweden, and comes out against gay people because her "religion" doesn't allow men to be with men or women to be with women.
Fuck Christians. Why don't you all move to Ethiopia and Russia and continue your little hate-filled Christian paradise.
- I like this idea, alot.
Realistically can it be done using existing rules, or will there need to be a vote by either the Olympic committee or the other invited countries?
This will be like taking a vote in the cafeteria at lunch to say, "Russia, you can't sit with us."
- Let's keep bashing the Russians in the media.
- The Olympic committee must be upset over all this bad publicity.
- Russkies Olympics
- DO Boycott.
Don't watch the Olympics. Don't watch the station(s) they're on at all. Avoid the websites that report on them.
Most of all: Boycott their major sponsors, Coke and McDonalds! And boycott ANYTHING Russian.
Make sure everyone knows you're boycotting AND WHY.
- Thanks for posting that R27. It's a good reminder of all the Coke products to boycott.
- Share this graphic with your friends.
- Has everybody forgotten that the last time the Russians hosted the Olympics, the USA and 64 other countries boycotted it?
- The USA is killing children and plundering the world's wealth.
- Mrs. Betty Bowers on the Russian Olympics:
- I'm making a pledge right now to not watch a single minute of coverage, to avoid sites that feature coverage, and to boycott all Coke products from now at least through the end of the Olympics. Further, I vow to boycott other sponsors during the actual games themselves, as many as I possibly can.
I hope a lot of other people pledge the same thing.