The simple answer is a very strong ‘no’.
While the behavior of the Russian government, Putin and Putin punks are abhorrent, nothing will be changed by boycotting the Sochi Winter Games. In fact, those who are appalled by the treatment of LGBT Russian citizens will lose an incredible opportunity for the world to show their disgust.
The reasons America shouldn’t boycott the games are very powerful:
1. Young Athletes, including our own, have prepared all their lives at great sacrifice for this moment. To deny them the opportunity to achieve their life dreams were be wrong and in the end not change a great deal.
2. In reality, the period between now and the end of the games is the prime organizing opportunity to draw international attention the plight of our Russian brothers and sisters. By withdrawing, we lose that opportunity and the story shifts to the relationships between nations instead of the suppression in Russia.
3. The Winter Games provide us a six month window to mobilize the athletes of the world including some of the most famous individuals in their nations to support LGBT rights, fight Putin and his policies and be visible.
4. Over the decades of our epic battle for LGBT equality, the community has learned that coming ‘out’ and being visible is one of our most powerful weapons. By mobilizing the athletes, the media and average citizens, we can bring light to these dark policies.
5. Entities like NBC Sports and sponsors of the games must take a stand against the horror that is taking place in Sochi and if the Games are boycotted we lose that ability to really affect powerful change.
6. By having, in the most defiant way, the Rainbow flag be everywhere where there is a camera including on the athletes, in the village and among spectators will be a powerful message to the world and a huge story that won’t happen if we boycott the games.
7. Remember in the 1936 games the big story in “Hitler’s Olympics” was that a black runner named Jessie Owens is the most remembered athlete and hero from those games. Our LGBT athletes will be competing for all of us and they deserve our support.
8. Not showing up never works but showing up in force, visible and well organized will be Putin’s humiliation and all the world will know of the plight of LGBT in Russia.
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