By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com September 10 2013 4:09 PM ET
Sochi Olympics organizing chief Dmitry Chernyshenko isn’t happy that the outcry over Russia’s law banning so-called gay propaganda is overshadowing preparations for the upcoming Winter Games in his country, reports the Associated Press.
“It’s very important to have your support to stop this campaign and this speculation regarding this issue,” Chernyshenko told the International Olympic Committee at its recent general assembly.
Even though Russian legislators have said the government does not have the power to suspend the enforcement of the country’s recently approved antigay legislation during the Sochi Olympics, Chernyshenko reiterated President Vladimir Putin’s assurances that the Russian constitution “guarantees the equality of rights and freedom for everybody” in the country and those who will visit during the games.
“We are absolutely confident that there will be no conflicts in that regards,” he said about fears LGBT athletes or supporters would be affected by the antigay law. “It will not stop [Sochi] 2014 from proudly upholding the Olympic values, I promise you.”
IOC president Jacques Rogge was quick to assure Chernyshenko that athletes would be reminded of rule 50 in the Olympic charter, which states that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Unfortunately, the IOC is turning a blind eye to the fact that Russia’s antigay law is in direct violation of another part of the organization’s charter, which forbids discrimination. Rogge claimed the IOC is satisfied with Russia’s reassurances that LGBT visitors will not be affected during the Sochi Games, as the country’s antigay law bans only “propaganda,” while “the constitution of the Russian Federation allows for homosexuality.”
However, while the IOC may be attempting to appease the host of the 2014 Games, an even greater force is beginning to cast a shadow over the Sochi Olympics that could force the organization’s hand — money.
IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg revealed that sponsors have begun to express concern over the fallout that could result if there are demonstrations during the Sochi Winter Games. “Lately there has been a lot of discussion, especially in Western Europe and in the United States, and I’m being pushed by several of the sponsors asking what will happen with this new law in Russian in connection with the gay community,” he said. “We are not to try to change anything over the laws in Russia. We will of course accept this as internal Russian decision. But what will the consequences be?”