IOC Will Not Object To Arrests And Beatings Of Russian LGBT Activists

It’s difficult for me to say which side of this issue I fall on. The IOC does not exist to make political statements. It exists to govern the Olympics which shouldn’t focus solely on one select group of athletes. At the same time, however, statement six in the list of what the IOC’s mission is states: “Act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement.” There’s a fine line to walk here, I realize. Not everything is black and white like so many people expect it is. And people are going to elbow in on the media coverage for any major event of this size and there’s not much to be done about it. These people had no direct involvement in the Games, therefore the IOC shouldn’t have to do anything, but people will be upset that they haven’t.

The International Olympic Committee has said Russia was acting in accordance with its laws when police detained 14 protesters in Moscow and St. Petersburg on the day of the Olympic opening ceremonies. Some of those held in Moscow report being beaten while in police custody.

“We understand that the protesters were quickly released,” Emmanuelle Moreau, the IOC’s head of media relations, said in an email to BuzzFeed. “As in many countries in the world, in Russia, you need permission before staging a protest. We understand this was the reason that they were temporarily detained.”

Full story


Out speedskater Irene Wust wins Olympic gold medal

Speed skating is one of the sports I love to watch. Unfortunately I had no idea it was already going on. Huge congrats to Ms Wust on her third gold!

Irene Wust, an out lesbian bisexual speedskater from the Netherlands, won a gold medal in the women’s 3,000 meters today at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 09:  Gold medalist Irene Wust of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium during the flower ceremony for the Women's 3000m Speed Skating event during day 2 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – FEBRUARY 09: Gold medalist Irene Wust of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium during the flower ceremony for the Women’s 3000m Speed Skating event during day 2 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)



Reporter hacked ‘almost immediately’ in Sochi

This is simply a follow-up to a statement I made in the previous post about what I’d heard second hand. I found this article on Huffington Post detailing what happened with NBC reporter Richard Engel. I personally think we should never have agreed to participate. Yes, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many athletes, but not at the risk of their lives.

Being a reporter at the Sochi Olympic Games just got even worse.

NBC News’ Richard Engel said that upon arriving in Russia to cover the upcoming event, he was hacked “almost immediately” — and privacy is not something visitors should expect to have.

“It doesn’t take long here for someone to try to tap into your laptop, cellphone or tablet,” he said Tuesday night.

Engel decided to test Russia’s privacy system with the help of American computer security expert Kyle Wilhoit, who set him up with two brand new computers and a phony identity, with fake names and addresses. When Engel connected them to the Internet in Sochi, he said he quickly received a suspicious email and was shocked when his computer was hijacked immediately after opening the email.

“In a minute, hackers were snooping around,” he said. “The same thing happened with my cellphone — it was very fast and very professional.”

Full story (with video)


Will The Sochi Games Be Safe For LGBT Visitors And Advocates?

I was talking to my mom last night and she said there’s already hackers over there waiting to latch onto people’s cell phones and other devices to monitor what is said (and presumably to whom), so it’s not just physical harm that people may come to while in Russia.

Leading advocates remain concerned over how Russian authorities will enforce the country’s anti-LGBT propaganda law when it comes to LGBT visitors to the Sochi Winter Olympics — and what the broader atmosphere for those visitors will be.

Worry over the law itself is not new, but conflicting responses from the International Olympic Committee and Russian officials regarding the law’s enforcement during the Olympics have put advocates on high alert ahead of the opening ceremonies Feb. 7 — especially for those advocates who will be on the ground in Sochi.

“It’s hard to imagine something not happening given all that has transpired to date,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally, who arrived in Russia on Tuesday. “Clearly there is risk involved with being here but given the enormous opportunity to raise awareness about what’s going on in Russia, the risk has to be weighed against the reward.”

Full story


IOC President, Slam Politicians Over Sochi Olympics

I wholly disagree with Mr Bach. It is not the politicians who are using the athletes. This whole issue isn’t about politics. It’s about people’s lives.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach accused world leaders Tuesday of using the Sochi Olympics as a political platform “on the backs of the athletes,” and of snubbing the games without even being invited.

Three days before the opening of Russia’s first Winter Games, Bach used a hard-hitting speech to call out politicians for using the Olympics to make an “ostentatious gesture” serving their own agendas.

Without naming any individuals, Bach’s comments appeared directed at President Barack Obama and European politicians who have taken stands against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda” among minors.

The Olympics, Bach said, should not be “used as a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contests.”

Full story


Finnish Olympian Swimmer Comes Out As Gay

Good for him! I like his reasoning. 🙂

Finnish Olympic swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, publicly came out today. He came out to Finnish outlet Yle because he wanted to speak publicly about his sexuality close to the Sochi Olympic games to shed light on Russia’s controversial anti-gay legislation. “I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi, because it’s sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others.”

Full story (mostly pics)


Why Is The World’s Gayest Sport Stuck In The Closet?

I don’t assume that every male figure skater is gay, but of course it’s fine with me if every last one of them from any country is. I understand the desire to hide their sexuality and it’s not for any of us to decide why they do or do not come out of the closet. It’s the right of each of us to come out or not as we each see fit. It’s not up to the world to out anyone, even if they stand on the world’s stage.

When I ask figure skater Jeremy Abbott how athletes should respond to Russia’s anti-gay laws, his eyes widen. “Um,” he says, and stops. He shrugs a little and glances over at the U.S. Figure Skating (USFS) handler who’s standing nearby.

“You don’t have to answer that,” the handler reassures him.

Abbott takes in a breath, glances down. “Yeahhh,” he sighs, almost inaudibly. Then — “I’m going to walk away from that one.”

We’re backstage at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which serve as an unofficial qualifier for the Olympic team, and Abbott’s a favorite. He’s 28 years old, planning to retire at the end of the season and cautious; he was criticized last year for comparing Russia’s laws — which have motivated the rape, torture, and murder of gay men and women — to bad interior design. (“I’m not going to go into somebody’s house and be like, “Um, the way you decorate is hideous.”) A bunch of athletes had been cornered on the topic, and the less media-savvy skaters hadn’t yet mastered the art of expressing compassion while sidestepping responsibility. Abbott just happened to come up with a particularly inept metaphor.

Later, when I pass him in the hallway, he apologizes twice.

Full story


Olympic Sponsors Were Warned About Sochi

I wonder how many future hosts of the Olympics are paying attention to what is happening in Sochi and making adjustments or plans accordingly. I am hoping this will be the only “bad seed” Olympics we have, but I doubt it. 😦 If not LGBT issues, then it’ll be something else.

Coca-Cola has been forced into the closet regarding its sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. It has shut down an interactive feature that allowed people to put messages on Coke cans cheering the Olympic athletes. The scrapping of the feature comes days after LGBT activists hijacked the campaign, urging people around the globe to use the cans to highlight messages about Russian anti-gay brutality and what activists view as Coke’s demonstration of its tacit lack of concern about Russia’s anti-gay laws by sponsoring the games.

That happened a couple of days after Coke saw its iconic 1971 commercial featuring singers wanting “to buy the world a Coke” re-edited by Queer Nation NY, going viral, with images added showing Russian security officials and police brutally cracking down on LGBT protestors.

McDonald’s, meanwhile, has surrendered a hashtag meant to cheer on American athletes, #CheerstoSochi, which was taken over by LGBT activists. It’s been used by people around the world — translated into Japanese, German, French and Russian — to highlight Russia’s repression and the McDonald’s Corporation’s sponsorship of the Sochi games. Ronald McDonald has been turned into an icon of hate, while Proctor & Gamble is being accused of supporting a different kind of cleansing than its soaps and detergents advertise. And there is much, much more to come.

Full story


Sochi Mayor Says There Are No Gay People In His City

I guess Mr Pakhomov knows nothing of the existence of Mayak Cabaret in Sochi.

The mayor of Sochi is under the impression that there are no gay people in his city.

Anatoly Pakhomov spoke with the BBC ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics and discussed how gay people would be treated in the Russian region with the country’s “homosexual propaganda” law in place. Pakhomov said gays are welcome at the Games in spite of this, so long as they “respect the laws of the Russian Federation and [don’t] impose their habits on others.”

He claimed gay people do not have to hide their sexuality in Sochi.

“No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city,” he said. He later admitted that he isn’t absolutely certain there are no gay people in Sochi. “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”

Full story


Putin Says He Has Gay Friends But…

Okay so Putin claims to have gay friends – and he even likes Elton John!!! – but he still equates LGBT folk with pedophiles. I wonder how his “pedophile” friends view this opinion.

He loves Elton John and has gay friends, but Russian President Vladimir Putin equated LGBT people to pedophiles and suggested “cleaning up” Russia of their influence in a robust defense of the country’s anti-gay law before the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month.

In an interview taped Friday and broadcast Sunday, Putin told Russian and foreign news anchors that nobody who protested the law during the Olympics would be arrested for “gay propaganda” and claimed to be uninterested in people’s sexual orientation. A transcript of the interview was posted on the Kremlin’s website.

“None of our guests will have any problems with this,” Putin said. “There are no fears for people with this nontraditional orientation who plan to come to Sochi as guests or participants,” he added.

Nonetheless, Putin attempted to deflect the firestorm of international criticism over the law that has overshadowed the Games.

Full story