Sochi 2014

While it’s not normally my idea of a personal rant on this blog, something has been weighing heavily on my mind in the past several weeks and it has to do with the Olympics; and being sport related, a focus of this blog.  The Olympics in Sochi is fast approaching. There have been many articles written about boycotting the Olympics due to the anti gay laws in Russia.  From an athlete or tourist point of view, I can only imagine what they must be thinking as a visitor to these games.  I know I can’t even begin to comprehend, what a gay athlete or gay tourist is thinking.

Fear.

Whether one is an advocate of gay rights or not, it doesn’t matter in my opinion.  This is a human rights issue.  The realty is, people are being beaten and tortured because they stand up for a cause by peaceful protest.  Or wearing a rainbow pin on their lapel.  People are jailed unjustly.  Civilians who oppose anything gay and lesbian have acted like barbarians, taking young men or women; using video to have them come out on social media, or raping women to ‘fix’ them straight.  Gay parent’s who have children are sending them abroad, for fear they will be taken away.

If you don’t believe me, feel free to Google it.

In my opinion.  This is wrong.  Very, very wrong.

Boycott?  I think we tried this once before in 1980.  Well folks, nothing happened. Athletes lost out on their dream, and Russia ended up winning the lion’s share of medals.

At the same time, I do feel as though something must be done from a global standpoint. Yes, there are other countries who have anti gay laws.  Russia is not the first.  However, with the Olympics being held in Sochi, my primary focus is, what does that mean to the rest of the civilized world?  Are we complacent?  Do we care?  Does our own corporate and government agendas filled with greed and profit, trump the well being of people’s lives? Collectively, would we cheer on our country men and women during the Olympics; without acknowledging the fundamental rules and obligations of good sportsmanship and relationships with it’s host country?  And for Russia, without showing prejudice to it’s visitors?  There is honour in sport.  Where is the honour with it’s host country who threatens it’s attendees by the mere mention of pro gay statements?

To play.  To win.  To profit.  At what cost?

My thoughts have always focussed on the sponsors & broadcasters of these big events. Large corporations who partner with the IOC and have a large presence at the games.  45% of the funding for the IOC comes from Sponsors.  Those major partners are Coke, Omega, McDonald’s, Alos, GE, Dow, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, and VISA.  47% comes from the broadcasters around the globe who buy the rights from the IOC to air the games in their country.  I’d say, that’s a HUGE chunk of funding.  The remaining amount of revenue comes from tickets and licensing.

While I must admit, I know this will not change Russian’s anti gay laws, but I do feel as though a strong, silent message will be sent if these top corporations unite together and use their corporate identity to advertise the rainbow flag on all product, and advertising during the games and show support for the LGBT athletes and attendees.  Would Russia ban these sponsors from attending?  If that were so, I’m not certain there would be any games.  Period.  Many of these partners help stage the games for the duration of the Olympics.  They’ve paid a gargantuan amount of money to be there.

I would even go further, and like to think the corporate companies like Nike will sport a rainbow swoosh on all athletic hockey shirts. (if they are making the jersey). and all other companies present at the games, do the same.

Maybe it wouldn’t fly.  Maybe it would.  Not really sure, but I would like to think there is concern within the corporate ranks and not just lip service when it suits their needs.

Further to all this, where is the IOC in all of this?  I’ve not really heard much from this organization which I would think would be a top priority on their agenda.

I would like to think, that even in our busy lives, we all think about the world in which we live in and how we can make it better.  Making it a kinder, less judgemental place to live in.

I really do fear for those who may be travelling to Russia during this time.  But what I fear most, is those that have to live in it everyday.

“I’m not an activist; I don’t look for controversy. I’m not a political person, but I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights. I care about animal rights.”
-Ellen Degeneres

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