NPR Story
2:06 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Gay Olympian To Athletes: Don't Boycott Winter Olympics

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 2:52 pm

Recent legislation in Russia that criminalizes homosexuality and gay rights activism is raising concerns ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Russia has also seen an outbreak of violence against gay rights advocates, raising questions about safety for gay athletes and visitors to the Olympic games.

I would never want my life’s work to come down to a boycott.
–Johnny Weir

The law, which bans speaking about homosexuality or being openly gay in public — such as holding hands or flying a rainbow flag — applies to foreigners.

Russian officials have made contradictory statements about whether the law would apply to those who come for the Winter Olympics.

Prominent Americans and some Russian LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activists have called for a boycott of the games.

But others say the games should go on.

But others say the Games should go on, including openly-gay Olympic figure skater and self-proclaimed Russophile, Johnny Weir.

Weir says boycotting the Olympic Games only hurts the athletes, not the Russian government.

“We’ve all given up our lives for the Olympics,” Weir told Here & Now. “I would never want my life’s work to come down to a boycott. I think being at the Olympic games, for me, and possibly winning a medal, and being one of the only out gay Olympians, would do so much more for the Russian LGBT community than us sitting back and not being present.”

Weir says most athletes he knows — gay or straight — don’t support a boycott.

“The most positive thing we can do for the community is to show that we are united and we are strong,” he said.

Guest

  • Johnny Weir, Olympic figure skater. He tweets @JohnnyGWeir.
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