« »

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Runner Nick Symmonds tests Russia’s anti-gay resolve

ThinkProgress: A top American distance runner dedicated the silver medal he won at the track and field World Championships in Moscow to his gay and lesbian friends, becoming the first athlete to openly defy Russia’s new anti-gay law that outlaws “homosexual propaganda.” Nick Symmonds won the silver medal in the 800-meters Tuesday, then broke a previous pledge to not speak out against the law while at the championships by telling a Russian news outlet that he had no choice but to say something.

“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” Symmonds told Russia’s R-Sport. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”

“I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people,” he added. “I disagree with their laws. I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules.”
According to the report, “Other athletes have pledged to speak out against the law during the Winter Olympics, which open in Sochi in February. Openly gay American figure skater Johnny Weir has said he is willing to get arrested during the Games in Russia, while gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup, who is from New Zealand, has pledged to wear a rainbow pin during competition in Sochi. The IOC said this week that it may punish athletes who speak out against the law during the Olympics for violating its rule against political statements.”

I thought that an international incident was inevitable and Symmonds is proving me right. If Russia ignores his “gay propaganda.” then that practically guarantees further high profile protests — i.e., the “gayest Olympics ever.” If they bust him, they’ll endure international condemnation. They really are in a no-win situation here.

No matter what happens, getting the Winter Olympics seems more of a headache than a victory for Russia, since a biggest benefit of being the host country is usually free advertising and boosterism. The image Russia (and any protests) will be broadcasting to the world will not be positive and, in the end, will do them more harm than good. Any company looking to avoid bad PR would be well-advised to have as little to do with Russia as possible,

[photo by JARRIN]

Search Archive:

Custom Search