Olympians join Athlete Ally, All Out in support of gay rights in Sochi

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Athlete Ally and All Out launched a campaign titled “Principle 6” to protest Russia’s anti-gay law going into the Sochi Olympics.

The campaign references the sixth “fundamental principle of Olympism” outlined in the Olympic Charter.

“Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement,” the charter reads.

At least 15 Olympians pledged support, including Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash, U.S. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and retired tennis player Andy Roddick.

Athlete Ally said its first step was a letter from those Olympians to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach “telling Bach that it is time for the IOC to speak boldly and proactively about this human rights issue.”

Bach responded to All Out in a letter after the IOC was asked “to clarify whether the Olympic Charter includes lesbian, gay, bi and trans people under Principle 6,” according to a press release.

“Let me first take this opportunity to reassure you that the IOC will do everything it can to ensure that the Olympic Games in Sochi as well as any future Games’ edition will be free of any form of discrmination,” Bach wrote, adding that the IOC again received assurances two weeks ago that the Olympic Charter will be applied during the Sochi Games.

“However, it is important to stress that the IOC’s remit does not extend to the internal affairs of sovereign nations, no matter how we may feel about them. We are not a supra-national parliament or government and we must leave such deliberations to the competent authorities. The IOC cannot hope to influence national legislation outside the scope of the Games and has to respect the law of each host country.”

Openly gay athletes are expected to compete at the Sochi Olympics, such as Canadian hockey forward Sarah Vaillancourt and New Zealand short track speedskater Blake Skjellerup.

In private meetings, LGBT rights advocates thought about the idea of pairs of two men and two women holding hands during the parade of nations at the opening ceremony, according to The New York Times.

The symbol and the syllables P6, perhaps worn as a sticker, perhaps woven into clothing, could evolve into something along the lines of a Livestrong bracelet: a ubiquitous motif that doesn’t spell out a whole philosophy but has an unmistakable meaning and message.

Also Friday, the U.S. Olympic Committee board voted to amend its code of conduct, adding sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.

Thomas Bach set to visit Sochi for first time as IOC president