18 December 2013, 18:34

Obama's 'boycott' of the Sochi Games: so much worse than in 1980…

Obama's 'boycott' of the Sochi Games: so much worse than in 1980…

The announcement made by the White House staff that US president Barack Obama would be "too busy" to attend the winter Olympic Games, which are to be held in the Russian seaside city of Sochi, was received in Russia as sad, but not entirely unexpected news.

Obama did not give other reasons for his non-show at the Olympic games, but the choice of members for the American Olympic delegation lets one make an easy guess about his motives. The delegation is largely made up of LGBT activists, which shows that the Obama administration continues to view the Olympic Games in Russia via the weird prism of relations between homosexuals and heterosexuals. The White House’s statement about the delegation representing "the diversity that is the United States" makes the position of the US government not only clear, but even somewhat intrusive.

The LGBT activists among the American delegates, including gay tennis player Bill Jean King and women’s hockey bronze medalist Caitlin Cahow, might be surprised to find out, upon coming to Russia, that homosexual relationships are perfectly legal here and that female homosexuality had not been banned even under the Soviet Union. Which made a big and positive difference between Russia and such countries as the US and the UK, where being a homosexual, male or female, until recently meant you could not work at a state-paid job.

In fact, the linkage between the so called "anti-gay law" and the Olympic Games in Russia exists only in the minds of the Western PR experts, which forced this agenda on the mainstream American media TWO MONTHS after the ill-fated law was adopted in Russia in June, 2013. In the first weeks upon the law’s adoption, its criticism in the Western media was relatively mild, since the actual text of the law SAYS NOTHING about homosexual relationships. The real name of the law is "On Several Changes in the Law on Protecting Minors From the Information Which May Harm Their Health and Hinder Development." The law penalizes (by a $200 fine) forcing on children the information about "nontraditional sexual relationships." Unfortunately, in August Russia hosted a world championship on track and field, and someone in the "center of media power" in the West had the idea to link sports and sex. Beginning from late July, the Western media suddenly started to spin the story about the presumed "danger" that Western gay athletes might face if they come to Russia. The spin was never backed up by any facts: no athlete, Russian or Western, was in any way penalized for their sexual behavior or public utterances during the championship in Moscow or afterwards, even though some athletes used the gay "rainbow" symbols and kissed in public. Russia’s president Putin and other Russian officials assured the future guests of Sochi Olympics that none of them would face any discrimination on any ground, including sexual preferences.

So, the story about the "danger" to gay athletes and about the "anti-gay" law itself is an agglomeration of lies, and it does not take a great intellectual effort to see this. But some Western politicians obviously see a "snub" to Russia as an easy way to score points with easily misguided or simply uninformed electorates in their countries.

So far, there are three presidents who made it clear they would not come to the Sochi games. The German president, Joachim Gauck, a former human rights activist known for his Russophobic views, joined the club first several weeks ago. This week the French president Francois Hollande and Obama followed suit. Interestingly, both Hollande and Obama took the same decision at a moment, when their own ratings are at an all-time low. The French center for sociological studies, BVA, put Hollande’s approval rating in the end of 2013 at the mark of 26 percent – the worst result any French president of the Fifth Republic ever had since the polls started to be taken 32 years ago. Obama’s popularity also suffered from the Obamacare scandal, with 52 percent of Americans disapproving of Obama’s performance.

Obviously, the decision not to attend the games is seen by both Obama and Hollande as an easy and cheap way to present themselves as "human rights champions" without taking the same risks that Martin Luther King took upon himself or suffering the same predicament which late Nelson Mandela had to go through.

This calculation is indeed cheap – and like all cheap tricks, it can be taken seriously only by uninformed people, who continue to buy the negativism that surrounds Russia in the Western media. In fact, the history of Olympic boycotts (even though both Obama and Hollande took great pains not to pronounce this word in public) - this is the history of degradation of the West, not Russia.

The boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow was caused by the Soviet expedition in Afghanistan – a tragic event both for Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. Even though there were voices against this politicization of the games even then, at least this was a serious reason. To politicize the games in Sochi because of a NON-EVENT, a PR campaign of the Western media around the law, which so far has not penalized a single person – this is indeed a disgrace and degradation. What is it going to be next? Excluding India, where the Supreme Court declared homosexual relationships illegal? Punishing the Muslim world for its stance on sexual mores? The modern West challenges all other epochs and cultures in a universal contest of stupidity.

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