I’ve read quite a bit about what the athletes are doing at the Olympics. The stories coming out are interesting. For me being Canadian, the biggest story was in the women’s freestyle moguls where Dufour-Lapointe sisters Justine and Chloe took silver and gold for Canada while Maxime watched. It would have been amazing had all three sisters took gold, silver, and bronze, but not every story can be that incredible (though, it would still be awesome).
Of course for us, the people watching, we still get some of the other stories. The biggest of which is the incredibly oppressive Russian laws against LGBT people during these games. And why LGBT athletes haven’t been talking about it very much.
There is obvious reasons why athletes aren’t talking about it. They have competitions to concentrate on, and everything else is a distraction. Even the stories within the competition. Stuff we think of about the games, such as whether women’s hockey gold medal game will feature Canada and the United States again, or if the Russian men’s hockey team can do what Team Canada did in Vancouver. Can Russia’s performance at the games top the medals, or will Norway continue to lead the medal standings as they opened the games with a strong performance. All those stories must be distractions for them, just as much as any press would be about discussing the oppressive laws against LGBT people.
There’s another factor. And that comes from watching the very disturbing images of Russian citizens detaining, oppressing and video taping atrocities against LGBT people. This surely must be in the minds of the athletes, and it must be affecting them. Are some of these groups going to target LGBT athletes? And we know there is LGBT athletes at the games. Every country has sent athletes who are openly gay. Are these actions affecting athletes as they compete for medals at the Olympics?
At the end of the day, these athletes have competition to think of first. And while it’s important to raise concerns and take issue with Russia’s oppressive laws, the athletes safety and their events comes first. There’s a good chance that when their events are done they’ll be willing to speak out. For now their silence isn’t out of some aspect of putting a gag order on the athletes. They have one goal to concentrate on. Winning gold for their country. For us, the viewers of these events, we need to support them during the competition, and once that is done allow them to speak. Let the incredible pressures of just being at the Olympics pass, and then ask them questions about Russian laws, then let them speak out.