The Olympics are right around the corner and the excitement is almost as palpable as the fervor behind the Boycott movement. Wait, Boycott movement?
Yes, it’s that time in the Olympic cycle where everyone with a loud enough voice and a social movement in their back pocket is amping up their Boycott the Olympics rhetoric. Lucky us. Instead of hearing about the athletes and their ability to win at the games we’re hearing about all the horrible things the host nation has done to deserve our ire, and make no mistake Russia has done plenty to deserve it. Their backwards and dehumanizing stance on homosexuality is disgusting. Of that, there is no doubt.
But despite the stomach turning state sponsored hatred and discrimination of the gay community, Canada should NOT be boycotting these Olympics. In fact, I think it would be a corruption of the Olympic spirit to do so.
The true Olympic tradition goes back a hell of a lot longer than the “Modern” Olympic tradition and it then, as it does now, was highlighted most famously by an Olympic Truce. This is a time when political activism meant going to war, not posing nude for PETA or joining a parade. Men who would have killed each other set aside their hostilities to compete in the games.
The Olympic games are played on a foundation of trust. No harm shall come to the spectators or the competitors despite their affiliations. In Sochi we should expect no less than that. Russia has been granted the right to host the games and until they break the bonds of trust Canada would be out of place to boycott based on the backwards Russian treatment of human rights.
The Olympic games are not a political pulpit. One would have to destroy everything that the games represent in order to make it so. That is not to say that the games arent a place where political statements are made at all, that would be foolish and out of touch with reality. Of course they are. But the Olympics themselves are not an extension of the United Nations. It is not a sanctions meeting done on the slopes or a trade embargo negotiated on the ice.
The Olympics are an event of peace. They are an event of inclusion.
Yes. Political and Social statements are made and made famously so at the games. In fact they have been for as far back as time remembers the games. Victory over the competition affords with it something of a divine recognition of superiority. Be it the victory of an Ancient Greek athlete from one warring city-state over another or Jesse Owens’ medals in Berlin 1936, the athletes at the games have been central to political and cultural movements.
Those athletes at the games who are remembered by history, who had a lasting impression on the world, all had one thing in common. They competed.
Imagine a world in which Jesse Owens and the Americans boycotted the Berlin Games. I’ll tell you one thing, just as many people would have died in Nazi occupied Europe, but the world would have one less hero to inspire all those who came after him.
What will boycotting the games accomplish? Will Putin and Russian society recognize the errors of their ways and make amends to the gay community? Something tells me you will be waiting outside in the cold Russian winter a long time before that happens. No, all that would be accomplished would be the wasting of the entire collective lifelong efforts of Canada’s athletes. Doesnt seem hardly worth it at all.
That said, if Russia breaks the bonds of trust, abandons the Olympic truce, and endangers the safety or freedom of Canadian citizens at the games then Canada and the rest of the participant nations at the games should pull out. The onus is on Russia to live up to the part of Host at these games. It’s not THEIR expectations that our athletes must dance around, it’s the expectations of the collective Free Nations that THEY must comply with.
If Canadians are unduly detained or harmed by Russia in any official act then there is no other choice. Then, and only then, should Canada shame the Russians by withdrawing from the games.
Anyone who does not like that should take it up with IOC for having awarded Russia the games to begin with.