Countdown to the Olympics

With the Olympics fast approaching–they’re only 139 days away–there is plenty of excitement about the games themselves, but much controversy is being stirred by Russia’s new anti-gay laws, which could cause a struggle for many athletes travelling to Russia to compete. Apparently, these gay and lesbian athletes face the real risk of being detained  or deported back to there home country should they choose to voice a “pro-gay” stance or even just for being openly gay.

After these laws were passed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, many people wanted to boycott the Olympics and have them in Vancouver instead.  Critiques of this idea say that moving the games to Vancouver would not only be outrageously expensive, but it’s questionable whether the city could have facilities ready in time. It would also mean the IOC (International Olympic Committee) would have to repay Russia for its Olympic bid, something which might make other countries balk at the thought of hosting the games in the future.

Many athletes are trying to stay out of the controversy; however, some athletes have spoken out, like Canada’s Mike Janyk, saying, “I’ve had the fortune and freedom to pursue my dreams in sport and have seen first-hand how it brings people from around the world together in the pursuit of love, happiness and excellence. If I may enjoy this freedom so should every other human being, with whom I would proudly stand with on any field of play.” Mike has become an Athlete Ally Ambassador for the LGBTQ athlete community.

After much deliberation, between IOC and Russia they have claimed that anyone participating or attending the games will be exempt from the Gay Propaganda laws quoting:  “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the games,” the committee wrote in an emailed statement, adding, “This legislation has just been passed into law, and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi.”

This is a great relief for many people, but some argue that, unless the laws are repealed and Russia allows a broader interpretation of marriage and lifestyle, is just isn’t enough.