Sochi Olympic Chief to IOC: Make the Criticisms Stop. IOC to Athletes: Stop Criticizing When in Sochi

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2013

This tells you everything you need to know about Russia’s inability to cope with free debate:

The head of the Sochi Olympics asked the IOC on Sunday to help “stop this campaign and this speculation” related to the anti-gay law that has been overshadowing preparations for next year’s Winter Games in Russia.

The IOC would like all worldwide athletes to shut up and behave like good Russian patriots:

(IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard) Heiberg raised the issue of concerns among sponsors.

“Lately there has been a lot of discussion, especially in Western Europe and in the United States, and I’m being pushed by several of the sponsors asking what will happen with this new law in Russian in connection with the gay community,” he said. “We are not to try to change anything over the laws in Russia. We will of course accept this as internal Russian decision. But what will the consequences be?”

Heiberg cited Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which says “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

“We have to be prepared,” he said. “We can see many ways this could happen. I heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, what they are afraid of could happen.”

Rogge said athletes would soon be reminded about their responsibility to abide by the IOC regulations related to protests in the charter.

According to the AP, IOC President Jacques Rogge said he “satisfied” with Russia’s explanations so far. What’s particularly chilling, if Heiberg’s words are to be taken at face value, is that Olympic sponsors’ fears about “fallout” from potential demonstrations appear to be resulting in pressure on the IOC and Russian officials to make sure they don’t occur.

jpeckjr

September 9th, 2013

I think the IOC is misunderstanding the concern being raised by voices in the US and Western Europe, including the sponsors.

The concern is not that an athlete might violate Rule 50. They won’t.

The concern is that Russia might enforce the “no talking about gays” law against athletes, officials, reporters, and spectators outside “the sites, venues, and other areas” under control of the IOC.

The IOC is highly sensitive to public image. The worst possible public image incident would be Russian law enforcement standing by doing nothing while spectators wearing rainbows are beaten up by Russian thugs.

If this happened, and a sponsor decided to run an ad during the games saying: “We support equality for all people, including gays,” would Russia insist the ad be pulled? Or ban the sponsor’s products from being sold in Russia after the games?

Frankly, these are questions the IOC can’t answer. The head of the Sochi Olympics should be asking Vladimir Putin to answer them — about as likely as me winning a gold medal in ski jump.

Sir Andrew

September 9th, 2013

My fear is that simply being an out gay athlete will be seen as either a violation of the Russian laws or a violation of Rule 50. Our mere presence is automatically a political statement, and our refusal to hide is propagandizing at its best.

The IOC needs to grow up a bit. Merely having a national flag at the head of each delegation is political, as is allowing the athletes to dress in outfits that display their patriotic fervor. If all–or most–of the athletes wore rainbow pins or carried small rainbow flags in the opening ceremony, the IOC could hardly expel them all; it would destroy the games.

I also find it humourous that the Russian Olympic chief wants the IOC to stop the people of the world from attacking Russia for its antigay activities. What a maroon.

TampaZeke

September 9th, 2013

So I guess we can expect the IOC to disqualify and send home athletes who wear crosses or point to the sky or cross themselves before or after an event, or “give all the credit and glory to god/gods/God/Allah/the Lord Jesus Christ…”?

I can’t wait to see that!

TampaZeke

September 9th, 2013

What more does the Sochi man want the IOC to do? It seems to me like the IOC has gone above and beyond in trying to shut down protests and kiss the ass of Russia. They’ve threatened athletes. They’ve given youth ambassador positions to a vocally anti-gay Russian athlete and refused to take it away. They’ve done everything in their power to distract people from the real issue by misdirection and confusion. With every passing day they’re finding new and better ways to say “f*ck you!” to the international and Russian gay communities while singing the praises of all things Russian?

Honestly, short of buying ad space on the BBC, ABC and Fox promoting the anti-gay law, I can’t imagine what more the IOC could do for Putin/Russia/Sochi and their image.

JCF

September 9th, 2013

Fuhgeddaboutit!

Palmer

September 9th, 2013

Someone’s bottom line is being hurt, and that’s a GOOD thing!

corey

September 10th, 2013

I guess athletes will have to decide between human rights and armature sports.

corey

September 10th, 2013

I guess athletes will have to decide between human rights and amateur sports.

Hunter

September 10th, 2013

The IOC’s statement is really no surprise — that’s a committee composed of people who live in a nice little bubble where nasty things don’t happen — at least, not to them, and no one else counts.

If there is an incident (and I’m almost sure there will be), the IOC will duck any responsibility.

Keep up the pressure.

Rob

September 10th, 2013

Jpeckjr

Advertisements on air during the Olympics will not be universal. Ads you see in Canada, USA, England, and even Kazakhstan will all be different. So your sponsor ad question is not relevant. The ads that will be aired in Russia will reflect their laws, ads in other countries will reflect their laws. Russia will have no right to ask other countries to censor their advertisements in their own countries. I guess a lot of,people don’t understand how the Games are broadcast. NBC doesn’t broadcast them worldwide. Most countries have their own coverage with some only getting the NBC version.

jpeckjr

September 11th, 2013

@Rob. A valid point. On the other hand, if Coca-Cola, a worldwide sponsor that does sell its products just about everywhere, runs an ad like the one I described in a country where it is not against the law, there is, I think, a possibility, however remote, Russia could retaliate by embargoing the product within Russia. Stranger things have happened. I’m fairly confident the Russia image-protection agency will be able to monitor anything they want.

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