Opinion: Blurred lines between Russia’s anti-gay laws and Olympic events

By: Danielle Clarke
All eyes are on Russia this week as the Sochi Winter Olympics take off, but are people focusing too heavily on the controversy surrounding the LGBT community rather than the sporting events?

By: DANIELLE CLARKE

All eyes are on Russia this week as the Sochi Winter Olympics take off, but are people focusing too heavily on the controversy surrounding the LGBT community rather than the sporting events?

As stated in the Olympic Charter, “the goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

Recent occurrences show that it seems difficult to look beyond the anti-gay laws of Russia and into the international unity that the games are intended to offer.

We’ve all seen and heard these so-called “messages” allocating against the anti-gay laws in Russia; from the colourful clothing worn by the German team to Barack Obama’s choice to have two openly gay athletes represent the United States during the Opening Ceremonies.

Even Google seems to be protesting through its recent Olympic doodle. The doodle, the ever-changing image on the Google homepage, recently depicted several winter sports in rainbow colours.

These “messages” have induced varying comments and opinions.

The Huffington Post wrote about the twitter reaction to Germany’s Olympic gear at the Opening Ceremonies, including a tweet by Jill Amery that read, “Well played Germany,” while another by Gina Wicentowich read, “A message against Russia’s anti-gay legislation. Bold and beautiful.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 3.51.50 PMAs much as the Olympic Games promote harmony, as stated in the Olympic Charter, the fourth principle of Olympism states that “the practice of sport is a human right.

“Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

It is therefore no wonder people have shown concern and support for these recent “acts of defiance,” if they choose to see them as such.

However, others hold a much different view. Janine Maral tweeted, also in response to Germany’s outfits, that “[she hopes] the countries can disregard this trouble and focus on the sport.”

This leaves us to question what ultimately defines the Olympic Games and think about where, if at all, we should draw the line on a nation’s political stance.

If nothing more, the Sochi Winter Olympics have shed light on the issues surrounding the LGBT community in Russia. And if these Olympic Games aren’t the right time to get involved, when will it be?

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