My blog: feel free to steal this button!

RSS Feed Subscription

Social Bookmarking Services


Archives

Featured

Past Blogs
Current Blog


My RSS 2.0 Newsfeed

My RSS 2.0 Newsfeed


My YouTube Channel

Twitter

Facebook

Flickr

LinkedIn

Tumblr


The Agenda with Steve Paikin

The Huffington Post

SoundCloud


Oxford University alumni

St Edmund Hall, Oxford alumni

United Nations University alumni


The Royal Society of Arts

The Royal Asiatic Society

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society


UNICEF Team Canada

Governor General's Horse Guards Cavalry Squadron

MGB Roadsters


United Nations Children's Fund

Amnesty International Canada


Creative Commons

PGP Public Key

Friend of a Friend Protocol


 

Gold Medal Hypocrisy at the Sochi Winter Olympics
26 February 2014, 08h30 EST (UTC-5)
http://www.maharaj.org/blog/2014_02_26.shtml

Toronto Star Newspaper

The Toronto Star
Click logo for the original newspaper web page

The Toronto Star published my commentary article below, on the final day of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

* * *

In the soaring words of the Olympic Charter, the ultimate purpose of the Olympic movement is “the preservation of human dignity” to the exclusion of “discrimination of any kind”. But high words cast a long shadow over low deeds, and much of the global drama around the Sochi Olympics has been an object lesson in barefaced hypocrisy.

When Russia was criticised in the international media for its 2013 law banning “homosexual propaganda,” Vladimir Putin took to the airwaves to reassure the world that the Sochi Olympics would still be free of any discrimination.

Yet, during the same interview, he paused to associate homosexuality with paedophilia and to warn tourists in “non-traditional sexual relationships” to “leave children alone, please”.

Since then, Russian authorities have arrested approximately twenty-four people for protesting in favour of gay rights, including four people whose crime was to hold up a banner bearing the words of the Olympic Charter.

When the IOC was inundated with demands that it oppose the Russian law, former IOC president Jacques Rogge pleaded impotence: “The International Olympic Committee can not be expected to have an influence on sovereign affairs of a country,” he said.

Yet, at every Olympic Games, the IOC makes extensive demands on the sovereign affairs of nations, which governments must meet as a condition of hosting the Games.

It was to satisfy such demands the British parliament passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 and included sections to give the Olympic committees extraordinary rights over ordinary English-language words that could never have been privately trademarked under existing laws, words such as “games”, “summer”, and “London”. The Act also compelled the Secretary of State to “have regard to any requests or guidance from the International Olympic Committee” in creating further regulations.

Protecting its marketing strategy was important enough to the IOC for it to influence the “sovereign affairs” of the United Kingdom, to change domestic law and curtail freedom of expression. Protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people was simply not important enough to the IOC for it to exercise a similar level of influence on Russian law.

When citizens called on western governments to act, many politicians were happy to curry popular favour with denunciatory speeches and political gestures. “We wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Barack Obama, shortly before deploying a delegation to Sochi pointedly comprised of openly gay retired athletes.

Yet, Obama’s clarity does not appear to extend to the eight states in his own country that also have laws prohibiting “promotion of homosexuality” to children. Alabama and Texas go furthest, requiring public schools to teach children “that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” More brazenly still, they insist that schools teach “that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense,” notwithstanding the fact that the US Supreme Court invalidated American anti-sodomy laws eleven years ago.

It is easy for politicians to cast themselves as heroic figures by railing against actions in other nations. But when they are silently complicit in similar abuses on their own soil, they not only expose the emptiness of their theatrics, but also degrade the principles for which they purport to speak.

If the Sochi Olympics have but one lesson, it is that no one has a monopoly on virtue.

Vladimir Putin poses as a protector of children, while making gay youth outcasts in their own country. The IOC poses as an organisation above politics, while unabashedly bending national politics to its commercial interests. Barack Obama poses as a defender of human rights by grappling with foreign governments, while he shies from the fight in domestic politics.

But the Sochi Olympics may yet help realise the grand words of the Olympic Charter, not in spite of all this hypocrisy, but precisely because of it.

The Games brought Russia’s homophobic law to global prominence, and have motivated ordinary people around the world to join hands with the very individuals the law was meant to isolate. They made the words of the Olympic Charter a rallying cry amongst athletes and spectators who have sought to hold the IOC to its rhetoric. They caused politicians to take a stand on the international stage, which in time may reassure those politicians that there is a constituency for the same principles of justice in domestic politics.

Nothing in Sochi did more to honour and advance the Olympic Charter, than the worldwide fight for equality unleashed by these Games.


 

Tweet this article at Twitter » To tweet this article through Twitter, please click here.

Post this article at Facebook » To post this article at Facebook, please click here.

Share this article at LinkedIn » To share this article at LinkedIn, please click here.


Subscribe to this article » To subscribe to my blog, please click here.

My iTunes Podcast » To subscribe to my podcast, please click here.

My YouTube Channel » To visit my YouTube channel, please click here.


My Blog » To return to my main blog page, please click here.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


















Privacy Policy
Akaash Maharaj - Breaking News

 

NATO & the Judgement of Paris

 

My article on military options against Daesh


Television appearances

TVO's The Agenda
 

My panel on corruption in the political and corporate classes


Radio interviews

United Nations
 

My address in the UN General Assembly Chamber


Feature articles

Huffington Post
 

My letter to PM David Cameron, on behalf of the global parliamentary alliance

   
 
iTunes Podcast
 
My YouTube Channel
 
My Twitter Tweets
 
My Facebook Profile
 
My Flickr Photo Album
 
My LinkedIn Profile
 
My Tumblr Page
 
My RSS 2.0 Newsfeed