Editorial: On Olympics, Sochi 2014, and Political Games

Ok. You know what I am going to rant about here. This: Russia’s grand vanity oligarchic Olympics, which costs $50+ billion, but has no space for LGBT people.

In Russia, LGBT people and supporters are discriminated against, beaten up, brutalized and even tortured unto death. The state tacitly supports and condones.

When it comes to gay rights, this blog believes it is very important for people around the world to see LGBT people supported and embraced by their community and see LGBT people as athletes, role-models, and above all, normal people. This debate is bigger than Winter Olympics 2014 or LGBT rights in Russia. This is also for LGBT people in other parts of world, who live in fear, under persecution, and in loneliness.

I don’t think boycotts help (I am open to persuasions on the matter). Maybe at this point, small moments of defiance will probably speak volumes. Last year, a poll published on Iconic Photos returned that the most memorable Olympic moment was when two medalists raised their fist in a Black Power salute. It is such moments that raise awareness. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) maintains the games must remain politics-free zones, does not speak out against the new discriminatory laws, and forbids the athletes from making political statements or gestures.  That is wrong.

The Olympics are a  global phenomenon, and as such their history is intertwined with political landscape of the day, from Hitler’s grandiose Teutonic spectacle at the Nazi Olympics of 1936 to the decisions to award the games to totalitarian governments in Seoul (for 1988) and in Beijing (for 2008) in hope that they open up. Thus, this blog believes forbidding athletes from making political statements or gestures is hypocritical, when both the Russian government and the Olympic committee are guilty of that.

Isn’t the very stance that the Olympics must be free of politics and protests itself a political stance — and alas, a political stance that disenfranchises minorities? Groups perhaps most affected by this stance are likely to be those discriminated or oppressed in their day-to-day lives, and those who would like to make that plight clear to the international audience. 

I hope many athletes walk down opening and closing ceremonies and walk up their podia fully supporting this important human-rights issue with pins and flags. Defying both the IOC and the Russian government.


For detailed articles for photos above, clockwise from top-left: Black Power saluteWladyslaw KozakiewiczGreg LouganisDorando PietriAmerican basketball team’s controversial lossJesse Owens gets cheersAntonio Rebollo lights the flame; the bloody water-polo match; terrorism rears its ugly hooded head.

10 thoughts on “Editorial: On Olympics, Sochi 2014, and Political Games

  1. And I find it quite hypocritical that the LBGT issues are hot topic, but not the regular human rights issues in Russia (where torture by the authorities is commonplace and thousands were delibertely murdered by state agents and thousands more even were just “disappeared” forever in the last 2 decades), or the proximity of Sochi to Chechnya (a site of a truly Orwellian dictatorship) and Dagestan (the hot conflict zone where there are shootings and bombings practically every day), as well as to the parts of Georgia pernamently occupied by the Russian military, and “even” how 2012 will be the 150th anniversary of the genocidal killing and expulsion of the entire native population of the Sochi region, which is all more-or-less ignored by practcially everyone – along with, last but not least, security issues (Russian Islamist insurgents from the nearby republics recently openly announced they’re determined to attack, and in the past they repeatedly struck even into the far away Moscow region where they killed or injured thousands of people despite all the security and despite barbaric reprisals against them too, or maybe rather because of them). And the environmental issues. And so on and on. It’s all such a bloody mess, literally speaking.

    As for Seoul – well, South Korea DID become democratic by 1988 in part due to the Olympics. But it was a totally different case.

  2. Hypocritical? Hardly; the response above is a typical diversion used by those who dislike the spotlight being shone on a historically oppressed, abused and dispossed group. Which we can say of all state- even America- perhaps the rejoinder above is a product of guilt, or of ‘blindness by choice’ to the experiences of the LGBT group worldwide- not only in Russia.

    This post reminded me of a visit I once made in Berlin to the Holocaust Memorial, where I happened upon the memorial to the murdered Gays and Lesbians of Nazi Europe- a Pan-European phenomenon.
    You might even say global. Out there in the snow, it was like a rejection of silence and part of the landscape of historic pain- this is our European heritage. All of us, Russia included. Constructing ‘innocence’ within a narrative of outrage is a nonsensical attempt to locate homophobia within a particular socio-political context, whereas it is a universal phenomenon- have you been to Carolina recently?

    Forcing silence is compliance. Why divert from the issues of homophobia with a nonsensical derailing rant?

    Yes, painful histories may cause a rupture in our nationalistic sensibilities. But what is the point of ‘Othering Homophobia’- it exists everywhere, is embedded in the most unlikely subconsciousses, the most unlikely spaces. While some join the group to struggle, as the film Milk portrays, others (which the response above reveals) want to deny the worldwide hunting, oppression, judgement, and demoralisation of a group branded for who they are- who they are, not who they choose to be.

    Yes, Russia is not known for its Human Rights. Neither is America. They are both messes, places where democracy peeped around the door, took a look at the priorities of the social elite, and fled. Two sides of the same dastardly coin.
    Institutional homophobia can lead to silencing of other HR issues, which anyone who lives as close as I do to the Vatican knows. Such as child abuse:


    And finally, we needed this post. There is not one heterosexual individual in this world who should bypass it or attempt to whitewash it with the wider ‘inherent barbarism’ racist debates on the non-Western world.

    Freedom is the moment at which persecution ends and acceptance begins. So start accepting and stop derailing.

    • Yes, hypocritical. When Obama expresses such outrage about this, but not about how hundreds of thousands of Georgian refugees are still refugees just less than 100 km from Sochi, barred by the Russian army from returning to their own homes in their own country (from the regions where the ethnic Georgians were once the majority of the population – not even a minority but a majority, before the Russian-backed ethnic separatist rebels “cleansed” them out) – for example. I guess there are not enough Georgian American voters for that.

      Or Circassian Americians for that matter: 149 years ago (next year it will be 150 years), practically all of Sochi region natives (the Cirassians) were either killed or expelled by the Russian forces, and to this day they didn’t return, and the Olympics main site is going to be the bery site of a huge massacre from this time (it’s now called “Red Meadow” because of all the blood that was spilled there).

      There are only about 200 Chechens in the USA, so the situation in the nearby Chechnya isn’t an issue too, Obama’s never ever spoke about it, while the Russian Congressmen almost went to Chechnya earlier this year to meet Kadyrov in person. (In Chechnya, there are dozens of mass graves that were not even exhumed, there are thousands of people who are still “disappeared” and are likely to be in these graves.)

      But the pro-gay lobby in America? It’s huge. In the media, too. And to even mention all the other things is “a typical diversion”, wow.

      Btw, the Nazis didn’t “murder” any lesbians for being lesbians. Yes, whoever told you so lied to you.

      • You are sick. Seriously sick. Maybe you should read up on the slaughtering gays and lesbians in Nazi Germany before you continue with your pseudohistory.

      • Great. Where can I “read up on the slaughtering […] lesbians in Nazi Germany”? I love fantasy stories. Or maybe you just give me a name of two (2) such person “slaughtered” just for being a lesbian. Two, because it’s plural “lesbians”. IOr maybe is even 2 too much? Okay, so just one, can you?

        Btw: Gays were not “slaughtered” just fore being gays too. Like Ernst Rohn and many of his ‘boys’ were killed in the Night of the Long Knives massacre not for being gays but for also the being Nazis. In total a few thousand (est. 3,000 to 10,000) German homosexuals died in prisons and camps on homosexuality-related convictions and extrajudical internment. No, no one was condemned to death (like tens of thousands of army deserters were) and there were no organized massacres (like of so many other groups).

        Now, you can compare this number (5 thousand) with about 3.3 million (MILLION) Red Army POWs who died in German captivity during WWII, and how practically nobody even remembers them. In late 1941, thousands of them were dying every day. To quote US Holocasut Museum: “Second only to the Jews, Soviet prisoners of war were the largest group of victims of Nazi racial policy.” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007178 So, where are their memorials? 3300 thousand dead people and they’re totally forgotten, but they don’t matter, all while 3-10 thousand gays and 0 even thousand imaginary “slaughtered lesbians” apparently get fanciful memorials everywhere, and you’ll probably say this too (millions of actually exterminated people) is “a typical distraction”. Talking about being “sick. Seriously sick.”

        Meanwhile, it’s really cute how you continue to ignore the real slaughters in Sochi (historical) and nearby (right now). But hey, only 5,000 Circassians and 200 Chechens reside in America, so no one cares. Even rare reports such as http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/08/09/f-sochi-olympics-russia-circassians.html tells how, to quote, a “little-known indigenous group bands together in months ahead of Games” to remind the world of the “first modern genocide” they fell victim to in 1864, and not how Obama is outraged and international athletes are excepted to fly a Circassian flag.

  3. The Olympics was also held in Berlin when it was well known then what the german gov’t was doing to the Jews. Let’s not expect the Olympics Committee to do anything about this issue.

    • Well exactly. The Olympics embodies the perfect symbolic moment of male heterosexist ‘white power’, and G-d forbid anyone who tries to resist it. The Nazi Olympics in ’36 barred Jews, Roma, homosexuals and German-Africans from participating, and no one resisted this. Who will resist now? Especially as it looks like most of the antagonism towards the gay community is coming from those who should show concern (HR obssessors) but who are deliberately derailing to cover up what is happening to the LGBT community worldwide.

      Not all forms of social ‘cleansing’ are ethnic cleansing, nor should that stop us from denouncing it:

  4. So tell me Fellers…

    Wheres the “ICONIC PHOTO” that’s supposed to go along with this here post?
    Well…..I found one for ya…HERE, He is Gay as a 3 dollar bill but he had the good sense ta see the Games for what they should be: A place to compete and not to make a damned fool of one self:

    Hell, by doin so, he got more respect for himself an left those other idiots to look like spoiled attention getters who really just want to turn it into a flamin fag fest!

    I say Leave the Olympics alone. If some people abused it in the past, well, thats too bad and every sane minded person knows that two wrongs dont make a right.

    Your Obt. Svt.
    Col Korn,
    Chief O’ Mayhem in the Great WW-2 (And the Cold War)
    Now Chief O’ Security, Sanitation (And the Complaint Dept.)
    OXOjamm Studios.

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