Events for LGBT athletes
to be held after Olympics
Russian President Vladimir Putin, as homophobic as world leaders come.
WITH THE CONTROVERSIAL Winter Olympics in Sochi less than 100 days away, a little-known alternative for the gay community has emerged.
While calls for a boycott have been falling on deaf ears since the Russian Parliament passed a law prohibiting “homosexual propaganda” – whatever that is – a courageous group is now sponsoring the “Open Games” with an invitation specifically to the global LGBT community.
It certainly would be a slap in the face to Russian Dictator-wannabe Vladimir Putin.
The effort deserves all the support it can garner in the next three months.
SINCE RUSSIA PASSED its new law banning any form of public display of support for gay causes, there has been a worldwide outcry against its homophobia.
We reported on it in August and suggested action in Russian homophobia: protest at the games.
We recommended that all athletes display the gay Rainbow flag at every opportunity – especially on the winners’ podium.
Now, the Russian LGBT Sport Federation has come up with a better idea.
The web site of the Russian Open Games sponsored by the LGBT Sports Federation. Click image to enlarge.
Details can be found on its web site where you will discover this: Welcome to the website of Russian Open Games!
“The Russian Open Games will run from Feb. 26 to March 2 2014 [the week after the official Olympics], with the goal of promoting healthy lifestyles, physical activity and sports among the LGBT community and its supporters.
“The Games will also, it is hoped, bring together clubs and groups developing different kinds of sports among LGBT people.”
In addition to competitions in nine sports, organizers are planning ancillary events.
“An interesting cultural program awaits Games participants – film screenings, psychology study groups, photo exhibitions, parties, entertainment programs and more! Foreign amateur athletes are invited to the Games, as well as world-famous sports personalities, who could support the development of sports in the Russian LGBT community.”
This is a most welcome development. It is not exclusively for the LGBT participants, as the web site makes clear.
In a separate section Conditions for the Games the rules for participation are spelled out:
“All interested members of the LGBT community and others who are 18 and over and who support the goals of the Games are invited to participate. Participation is allowed both in the whole program of the Games and in each event on its own.”
The September story in Outsports about the Open Games. Click image to enlarge.
News about the unofficial answer to the homophobic Russian Winter Olympics was reported on the Outsports web site in September in Open Games to celebrate LGBT athletes in Moscow after the Olympics.
Cyd Zeigler reports:
“The Russian LGBT Sport Federation will hold the first ever Russian Open Games in Moscow to celebrate LGBT athletes and promote healthy lifestyle, physical culture and sports among LGBT people.
“The event is set to take place the week between the Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympics, Feb. 26 to March 2.”
Zeigler adds details about the competitive sports events scheduled:
“The Open Games will include nine sports: Badminton, basketball, cross-country skiing, soccer, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track & field and volleyball. Two other sports – figure skating and same-sex dancing – will be held as workshops.”
He notes that organizers hope for strong participation from the Russian people and welcome athletes of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
“They also hope to attract visitors from around the world; they are now reaching out to some well-known athletes in hopes they will stay in Russia after the Olympics to lend visibility for the Open Games.”
The outreach campaign definitely seems to be gaining traction. Buried deep inside The New York Times on Oct. 26 was the story ‘Open Games’ in Moscow to Test an Antigay Law
The New York Times story in October about the Open Games and its leader. Click image to enlarge.
“Viktor Romanov smiles slyly as he explains his plans to hold gay-friendly Olympics in Moscow just three days after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.,” reported Noah Sneider.
“Sport, Mr. Romanov believes, will be the perfect cover for gay men and lesbians to gather.”
Well, only in the former Soviet Union do LGBT men and women need to “take cover,” but the legal situation requires it.
“Mr. Romanov, a retired investigator for the Soviet and Russian security services, cuts a fatherly figure, wearing faded jeans, a brown leather jacket and worn white sneakers. It remains unclear whether Mr. Romanov’s Olympic intentions will make him a criminal,” Sneider adds.
“So far, the Russian L.G.B.T. Sport Federation, of which Mr. Romanov is chairman of the board, has managed to skirt the ire of the state. The organization is officially registered with the Russian Ministry of Sport but not supported. The Kremlin recently rejected the federation’s application for financing of the Open Games, despite pouring an estimated $50 billion into the Sochi Games.”
Well, that huge sum being spent on the “official” Olympics may not be such a wise investment after all.
Just a couple of weeks ago we reported that Russian Olympic stadium ‘a disaster,’ media say.
The Moscow Times and The St. Petersburg Times both carried reports about major delays in construction of the main stadium venue.
It would be hugely ironic if the official Olympics were held in an incomplete stadium in Sochi, to be followed by the Open Games for those who might not feel comfortable in Putin’s Russia.
The welcome mat has been put out for LGBT men and women. It is a laudable effort deserving of support.
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