International Olympic Committee Proves Its Anti-Discrimination Policies Are Spineless
The International Olympic Committee have dismissed concerns over Russia's anti-gay laws and proclaimed the country ready to hold the 2014 winter games.
At a press conference on Thursday, IOC Coordination Commission chairman Jean-Claude Killy said while the issue was debated, the commission decided that "The IOC doesn't have the right to discuss the laws that are in place in the country hosting the games, so unless the charter is violated we are fully satisfied."
Russia has been the focus of criticism and demonstrations by the international LGBT community since it passed a law in June that outlawed the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors." While Russian authorities claim this law is merely to protect teenagers and children from sexual exploitation, LGBT activists say it encourages society to target and attack openly gay Russians.
The IOC instead praised Russia over the quality of the facilities that have been built from scratch for the Olympics, which will kick off on February 7. Killy said that "In Europe you would probably spend 15 years on that, and here they did it in seven."
It is hardly surprising then that the IOC are unwilling to do a u-turn on their choice of host, especially considering how over $50 billion has already been spent by Russia preparing for the Olympics, both on the venues and the surrounding areas.
Similar widespread protests took place when China was announced as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games over human rights violations in that country, but the IOC took little notice then either. Likewise, when the Mexican government massacred its own citizens days before it held the Games in 1968, the IOC made no comment.
However, the IOC is not completely toothless. It changed its rules on religious attire, thereby allowing female entrants to compete while wearing hijabs, as the Saudi Arabian athlete Sarah Attar did in the 800-meter event in the London Olympics. The IOC also for a time insisted on West and East Germany competing as one country.
As the IOC said in relation to the lack of women on the Saudi Arabia team: "The IOC does not give ultimatums nor deadlines but rather believes that a lot can be achieved through dialogue." While the IOC may be unwilling to force Russia to live up to the Olympic Charter at this late stage, it remains to be seen whether gay athletes and sports fans will have a similar attitude.