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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

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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