Russia’s Olympic-Sized Screw Up

Russia has a vicious new law re: being queer. It basically bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.”

Part of this is the appalling attacks on queer youth. The videos are out there. Luring people out and brutally attacking them. It’s hard to read and comprehend.

Russia is also on track to hold the Olympics (Sochi 2014) and World Cup 2018.

These are huge events and are now fundamentally unsafe to queer athletes, of which there are many. A lot of pressure could be exerted on both of these bodies to ask for changes or pulling out. I know, it’s a tough sale, but momentum is building.

Dave Zirin wrote a wonderful piece that Grantland ran on the subject. It’s catching steam. It’s time to build.

Then, this. I’d like to avoid spectacularizing this, as I’m uncomfortable with objectifying their act, and given their statement that this was NOT a statement, but…

Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kiss at the women’s 4×400 metres relay victory ceremony in Moscow (per IBITimes)

It’s hard not to dive into hyperbole. To see references and images of

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the Black Power salute in the 1968 Summer Olympics while Silver medalist Peter Norman (left) wears an OPHR badge to show his support (source wikipedia)

flash through your eyes/mind. Images live outside of their intention. Acts occur outside of emotion. Fear drives people back afterwards.

This is about more than words. This is about athletes and sports fans saying “this, this is unacceptable, and I’m not going to just take it.” This is about Emma Green Tregaro, the Swedish athlete painting her nails in solidarity with oppressed queer folks only to be rebuked by the IAAF while competing in Russia. There’s certainly more to come.

Putin has said he wants to have Russia appear to be a modern democracy (whatever standard one uses for that is up for debate), well, make him prove it.

The International Olympic Committee, the Olympic governing body, has a blanket ban on any “political propaganda” but I would expect Olympic athletes to continue to push these boundaries during and prior to the Olympics as well as the World Cup. To be realistic, people have in the past, and will continue to. To pretend the Olympics are apolitical is to live in a fantasy. It’s as if Jesse Owens never won in Berlin during the 3rd Reich (and got snubbed by the White House later). It’s a stage. A grand stage. We here hope people really use it.


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