EDITORIAL: IOC must take a stand

Time for International Olympic Committee to stand up against Russia's crackdown on civil rights

Actor George Takei has started a petition to have the Sochi Olympics moved from Russia to Canada while U.S. President Barack Obama has cancelled a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

While Obama’s reasons for cancelling the summit are many, one of them is Russia’s crackdown on civil rights…namely new laws that almost make homosexuality a crime.

John Baird, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, has also denounced Russia’s controversial new anti-gay law as hateful.

Kudos to Baird, Takei and Obama for taking a stand. It’s time, however, that the International Olympic Committee took a stand.

Too often the powers-that-be look the other way when dealing with countries rife with human rights abuses. Or, they rationalize that in doing business with such countries, the abusers will see the folly of their ways and change.

That simply doesn’t happen. When it comes to the Olympics, the IOC is the first to tout itself as a worldwide organization touting inclusiveness, etc. In fact, the second principle stated in the Olympic Charter reads:

“The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

So what does the IOC have to say about Russia instituting homophobic laws?

“The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

In other words, hold your nose and dive right in.

– Black Press