From the day of writing only 106 days remain until the most expensive Olympics ever to be hosted take place in Mother Russia. The eyes of the world shall be firmly fixed on Sochi as athletes from every corner of the world participate to prove that they are the best at what they do. Unlike the 2012 London Games however some people shall not be welcome to attend, if you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered it would be preferred that you stay at home.
Back in June of this year Russia passed a law that prohibits the positive portrayal of non traditional relationships to anyone under the age of 18. With the homophobic attitude of the Russian government the rise of homophobia in the country has been astounding with Neo Nazi groups specifically targeting gay teenagers for humiliating torture that is then screened across the internet. While this is happening the authorities fail to act on the abuse. Despite the anger from politicians, athletes and human rights groups around the world President Vladimir Putin has urged calm and has claimed that the law is not discriminatory and everyone shall be welcome to Russia to participate. If you believe that you are completely delusional.
With all of this going on one would expect that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would as they have in the past react and exert the influence that they have in past. However President Jacques Rogge has stated that he is "powerless" to influence the sovereign affairs of a country. The IOC has claimed they have received strong written and verbal assurances that the Games shall be free and open to all who participate. If this wasn't enough of a kick in the teeth for those campaigning to ensure that LGBT people are respected athletes have been warned that they will be in breach of rule 50 of the Olympic Charter if they in anyway shape or form use the Games as a means of protest against Russia's anti gay laws.
If the IOC was in anyway being consistent then a degree of justification could be made for their behaviour However consistency in recent times does not seem to be a strong suit of the Olympic governing body when it comes to the issue of human rights. In terms of the sovereign affairs of various countries the IOC in the run up to the 2012 Games strongly involved itself in the affairs of Saudi Arabia. With the insistence of the IOC the 2012 Games for the very first time saw female participants come all the way from the Kingdom to enjoy the Games. In terms of tackling discrimination this is not the only occasion where the IOC has left it's mark. In 1964 South Africa was barred from taking part in the Olympics for 28 years over the outwardly racist Apartheid Government. This leaves open the question why is discrimination against LGBT people so much different? Why are countries that do not treat their LGBT citizens with the same respect as other minority groups?
In terms of more double standards from the IOC as was mentioned above athletes have been warned that any protest against Russia's anti gay laws shall lead to possible disqualification from the Games. At the World Athletics Championships this year Swedish athlete Emma Tregaro painted her nails in the colour of the rainbow as a show of solidarity for the LGBT community in Russia. However she was warned by the governing body that such a protest was unacceptable under Rule 50. Once again the consistency brings up an issue for the IOC. In the 2012 Games, Meseret Defar from Ethiopia after winning the Gold medal got out a picture of the Virgin Mary and started praying to the cameras Rule 50 prohibits political or religious gestures, this act of prayer to the cameras was a clear violation of Rule 50 but there was no action at all from the IOC. She was not reprimanded and she did not lose her medal.
Earlier this year Russian athlete, Yelena Isinbayeva told reporters that the rest of the world should respect Russia and the law was needed to "protect normal, standard people." To make matters worse Isinbayeva is the youth Olympic Ambassador, by uttering such homophobia she has given a green light to young people around the world that homophobia is okay. What punishment did she receive? Nothing. She remains in the post as Youth Ambassador for the Olympics and that is not going to change.
The only explanation that makes sense to me is that the IOC and it's leadership are homophobic. What other possible excuse could there be? They show no desire to act, they fail to uphold the part of their charter that forbids discrimination and they punish those who stand up against it. It pains to have to stage my own personal boycott of the Olympic movement now seeing as I was a person who very much loved what the 2012 Olympic brought to London. I cannot in conscience continue to support a movement that does nothing to defend a minority group from persecution and discrimination.