The 2014 Winter Olympics are now less than 100 days away. By all accounts, the two biggest issues facing the Games in Sochi are the facilities not being ready, and worldwide criticism and boycotts in response to both Vladimir Putin‘s war on gays and the International Olympic Committee‘s refusal to respond to the Russian president’s anti-gay laws.
So when International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach toured Sochi last week with Vladimir Putin and again met with him this week in Moscow, he of course declared everything was in great shape and saw no issues of concern. And then he refused to meet with representatives of Russian LGBT organizations.
Anastasia Smirnova of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation says, “LGBT activists in Russia see this decision as yet another indicator that the Sochi Olympics are far from being a platform to uphold and promote the Olympic values.”
Smirnova notes that Bach did suggest a meeting on his home turf, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC is headquartered.
Smirnova writes, “it is now impossible to imagine an inclusive event where rights and human dignity of all are respected. The law on ‘propaganda’ is degrading in its nature, suggesting that LGBT people are dangerous to children, families, and society, and that it is the responsibility of the authorities to protect other citizens from us. It is crucial to discuss and define concretely how implementation of the non-discrimination principles will be ensured in such climate. The refusal by Thomas Bach to meet with LGBT organizations in Sochi is disappointing, but we are glad that this discussion with the IOC will still take place.”
“The request had been sent to the IOC by email on October 13 and through a formal letter on October 22 by the Russian LGBT Network, St Petersburg’s ‘Coming Out’, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Russian LGBT Sport Federation, Arkhangelsk’s ‘Rakurs’, and the Out Loud project. The six organizations sought to discuss with President Bach ways the IOC can ensure observance of the non-discrimination clause of the Olympic Charter, in particular – commit to the respect of rights and human dignity of LGBT athletes and visitors through establishing a ‘Pride House’ in Sochi.”
Bach has yet to commit to a date or agenda for the meeting.
Image: President Vladimir Putin (right) and IOC President Thomas Bach, October 28. Photo via the Kremlin
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