Comment: Boycotting the Winter Olympics risks allowing critics to say there’s a ‘homosexual agenda’

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PinkNews reader Aaron Ruddock, who was a Games Maker at the London 2012 Olympics, fears boycotting the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia would play into the hands of homophobes who argue their is a “homosexual agenda”.

You’ve been preparing for your dream for 8 years, you’ve been training for your whole life, you can’t wait to get out there in front of the world and represent your country. Then you’re told that your dreams have been shattered with a couple of weeks to go because of condemnation of a law in another country which you do not support in the first place.

Spare a thought for the hundreds of talented young athletes who, if many vocal (and so far mainly straight) people get their way, will be prevented from competing at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia in response to the infamous gay propaganda law.

As a gay man who was lucky enough to be a Games Maker at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and a worldly traveller I believe that there should be no such boycott and that people should stick with these athletes and let them bring the world together with the aid of sport. After all this is what the Olympic movement is all about.

The Olympic Games has the power to bring people together no matter who or what they are. During London 2012 the USA and North Korean Women’s football teams were seen socialising in their hotel together before a game despite their countries being bitter enemies. The streets of London were alive with people talking to each other and smiling – which doesn’t happen very often. We were all glued to our TV screens to watch the latest challenges of straight, gay, bisexual, male and female athletes from hundreds of different countries and ethnic backgrounds.

During London 2012 I was lucky enough to meet athletes, officials, members of the public, media and volunteers from all over the world at the venues across London and in the Olympic Village in my capacity as an Olympic Family Assistant. One uniting point of view when talking to people was amazement for how much London was being brought together by the Games. I remember one young child who asked to trade pin badges with me and other Games Makers and when he got some from many countries had such a huge smile on his face. I also remember an elderly resident of London coming to me and thanking me for how proud he was that London was being shown in such a good light. I’m not a sports enthusiast personally but would never call for a boycott of the Olympics just because of a law I don’t agree with no matter how it affected me personally due to the good it can do.

Boycotting the Olympics Games would be counter-productive as not only would it affect the athletes but it would affect people both in Russia and all around the world that may disagree very strongly with the law. Innocent people who have worked for years on the Games, people in Sochi who are relying on the Games financially, people who have paid for air fares and average Joe Public who is looking forward to cheering on their favourite athlete and would be hit hard if the Olympic Games did not take place.

It would also be very hypocritical to call for a boycott because of this law alone. The Olympic Games took place in the USA during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Games took place in London twice when homosexuality was illegal. The Games took place in Beijing despite their government’s crackdown on gay and lesbian people in recent years.

Not only that but it would be logistically impossible with so much planning to change anything now.

The only way to change the world is to engage it – not to appease but to show the world that we’re all different but also that we’re still people and to let them change their minds on their own. Despite harsh crackdowns Beijing, and China as a whole, is a lot more open and accessible now than it was before 2008. To use a non-sports example North Korea is becoming a lot more accepting of the world since allowing more and more foreign tourists to enter and engaging with them.

I believe this will happen in Russia after the Winter Olympics. We may not like the law in Russia, we may ask that they reconsider, we may even no longer wish to visit for a tour but we cannot try to change the laws ourselves by force. If we continue in this manner by affecting those who support us, and by ruining a movement which aims to bring the world together, then we will be playing right into the hands of those that try to prove there is a homosexual agenda around the world that has the aim of global anarchy.

When Johnny Weir and other LGBT athletes perform on their screens, when LGBT visitors to Sochi are shown to be courteous normal people this will have more of an impact than boycotts that are all about making a scene and not fighting a cause.

We need to respect the laws of another country no matter how much we disagree with them and to respect the dreams of people that are on our side. I agree with the right to protest against laws we disagree with, and the right to pride. I would encourage people to protest strongly against this law – but this anger should be directed at the Russian authorities not the Olympic movement.

I therefore openly call on the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committees, the athletes, media and public NOT to boycott the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

In early 2014 we will be glued to our screens watching the Games and will have forgotten about this call for a boycott just like the nation stopped moaning about the expected traffic chaos in London that never materialised once the games started.

The Olympics are for everyone.

As with all comment articles the views expressed may not necessiarly reflect those of