Boycotting the Russian Olympics: Who Would be the Real Losers?
by Stephanie.Audet on September 5, 2013 - 3:30pm
Should we boycott the Russian Olympics after the Russian government has announced its anti-gay propaganda law? This controversial law bans Russian citizens and visitors from influencing 'the practice of' same-sex orientation to minors. Since the law has been passed, Russians have been beaten and imprisoned because of their (suspected) sexual orientation. Now, with the upcoming Winter Olympics being held in Russia; state leaders are scrambling to make a decision on whether or not boycotting the Russian Olympics would be both a reasonable and a fair decision to take. This is also an issue CBC news reporter, Joe Schlesinger attempt to answer in his article: “Don't boycott Russia's Olympics: Joe Schlesinger”. Although his opinion on the matter is made quite clear throughout his article (as well as in his title), Schlesinger also takes into consideration the safety of gay (or susceptibly gay) athletes and tourists and the moral issues that comes with banning gay rights, he argues that boycotting the Olympics would simply be punishing the athletes that have been training for years by either forbidding them to compete, or by taking away their opportunity to compete against the best athletes in the world. He manages to argue a lot of his points effectively by pointing out that this issue has occurred throughout history before, and that, during World War II, audiences were proud to watch Jewish and African-American athletes take home gold medals.
Essentially, it all comes down to a conflict in values and principles. Do we value public safety more than opportunities for individual growth and success? Do we wish to tolerate Russian laws or do believe it to be our collective responsibility to denounce it? Do we believe that the principle of conservatism outranks to principle for equality? Once we answer those questions, we are able to for our decision on the matter.
In my opinion, it would be unsafe to send gay athletes in tourists to the Olympics as the law now stands. However, if a temporary truce can be agreed upon to stop arrests during the entirety of the Olympics, then we should send our athletes (including the gay ones) to do what they have trained for years to do. If we are lucky, the Olympics will do what they always have done and create a sense of unity that only serves in aiding the situation. I only believe two alternatives would be useful, either the world as a whole cancels the Olympics (which does not seem like a likely scenario) or we send our best athletes to win medals and prove that being gay is not a disadvantage. What do you believe? Let me know!