Injustice and the Games

Josh Tanenbaum, Staff Writer

Shorter days and colder weather are beginning to signal the approaching winter, the holidays, and this year, 2014 Olympic Games. The Games will be held in Sochi, Russia, between February 6th and February 23rd.

The competition has been overshadowed by controversy beginning earlier this year, when Russia passed a law prohibiting propaganda promoting homosexuality. Those who violate the law can incur fines up to 500,000 roubles, or about $15,500, for propaganda promoting homosexuality to individuals under 18. There has been doubt as to whether gay athletes and spectators would be safe at the Olympics.

The Olympic Charter, which contains all of the official rules for the Games, clarifies that no discrimination of any kind is permitted at the Olympics. Western activists have boycotted Russian products, including vodka, in an effort to ensure tolerance at the upcoming Olympics, and their efforts, along with building international pressure, have worked. On October 28th, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that all athletes and fans attending the event will be treated with equality and respect.

Despite Putin’s promise, as of November 22nd, there is only one openly gay athlete competing in Sochi, New Zealand — speed skater Blake Skjellerup. He will provide the ultimate test of the sincerity of Putin’s promise of tolerance. Skjellerup has already produced a badge reading “Blake Skjellerup Proud 2014” that he will sport at the games. When asked about the badge, Skjellerup told reporters, “In my mind, it is no different to (sporting) a cross or a cultural tattoo. The pin is something I can wear to show that I am proud of who I am and also offer solidarity to the people of Russia, because it is not fair what is happening to them.”

Russian assurance of tolerance of gays at these Olympics may not improve gay rights in Russia anytime soon, as many citizens in Russia have expressed approval with the new law and the inequality of gays, but it does emulate the changing world perspective on homosexuality. In our own country, California, Delaware, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are a few of many states which have created same-sex marriage rights within the last year, and in Ward Melville, we accept all people through the Gay-Straight Alliance.


kscopenews 2014 olympics sochi josh 10th grade