Why I Didn't #BoycottSochi

I’ll be honest when I start this off.

I am not a sports fan.

I’m ok with playing some of them — I’ll play volleyball, quite happily.  I love swimming.  I’ve dabbled in snowboarding.  I like to think I’m a runner, even though I haven’t run in months, haha…. I love cardio kick boxing…

But I participate in every single one of those.

I don’t watch sports…… except for every four years in February.  Then… and only then… the PVR needs to be regularly emptied so I can record some more, and I make sure I’ve watched all of the sports that I want to see.  It’s the only time I care about results, scores, whatever…. it’s the Winter Olympics.

This year, they’re being held in Sochi, Russia.  Personally, my patriotic support of the games has never been higher than on the last ones, Vancouver 2010.  That might be my Canadian Passport talking, though.  Plus… there were Inuksuks everywhere, and if I had to pick a symbol of Canada that I love most, it wouldn’t be the maple leaf; It’d be the Inuksuk.

But I digress.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the location of these games.  There are many people out there… I even know some of them… who believe that we shouldn’t be there — that the depth of the inappropriateness, criminal activity, prejudice, and discrimination that happen in Russia in general is too great, and that we as a global community can’t possibly support Russia by showing up for the Olympics.

To be honest, I don’t know that much about what’s been going on.  And that is what’s going to fuel my argument in this debate.

Prior to January 2014, I knew virtually nothing of the conflicts going on in Russia in regard to human rights, gay rights, war crimes… just to name a few.  I’ve had to do some reading.  I’ve been sitting on this post for about a week and a half… and then Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop Prompts came out for this week and gave me the platform to write the back half of the post… and so I sat on it some more.

As food for thought, here are some of the things I read.  Now, I realize that some of the sources here aren’t amazing.  I realize that my search term – “boycott Sochi” – was a very leading search term, and that it’s probably led to some biased results… but… for me, that’s inconsequential.  If that matters to you, you can stop reading right here.  I’m being honest with you so that in the comments, I don’t get blasted for using slightly slanted sources…. plus, as a fair warning, I probably won’t approve any comments that are rude, anyway.  I never do.

Now — here’s my stance.

First of all, the only thing I’d heard about Sochi at all was the anti-gay policies and the eradication of stray dogs.  I’m not minimizing these things at all; They’re awful.  But there are other issues at hand here.  There are all kinds of human rights issues that are massive, all surrounding Russian government.  “Human Rights Watch have documented exploitation of migrant workers in violation of Russian law; evictions of residents without fair compensation and in some cases, with no compensation at all. Many resettled residents lost a portion of their livelihoods; Threats, harassment, and lawsuits of activists and journalists critical of the Games, as well as Russia’s discriminatory anti-LGBT propaganda law.” [Source]

And I think that’s my point…. before the Olympics started, that’s all I’d heard about.  While they aren’t good things, by any stretch of the word, and they aren’t things I want to draw attention away from, there are issues that go so deep in Russia…. that I would never have known about.  Because I wouldn’t have looked.

So yes, I know many people wanted Sochi boycotted.  They wanted The Olympics not to be held on a world stage that’s so fraught with issues deserving of international attention……. but if The Olympics weren’t being held in Sochi, would all of these issues be garnering such international attention?  Or would they have gone on, largely unnoticed, out of the public eye?

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