Sochi Olympics Affected by Russia’s Gay-Discriminating Laws

Photo Credit: Associated Press[1]

By: Yang Liu

On December 20, the White House announced that the United States’ delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics will not include any family member of President Obama’s family or active Cabinet secretary. This makes the Sochi Olympics the first Olympics since 2000 to which the U.S. is not sending a president, former president, first lady or vice president. On the contrary, the delegation will include two openly gay athletes: the tennis legend Billie Jean King and hockey player Caitlin Cahow. This arrangement is meant to send a message regarding Russia’s anti-gay laws.

The Russian Federal Law #135-FZ makes it illegal to tell minors that “traditional” and “non-traditional” sexual relations are socially equal. Though the law is said to be in line with the Russian public’s views on homosexuality, it has received criticism from gay youths inside Russia. Also, some critics even declared it would cause gay teenagers to lose confidence in Russia, thus immigrating to other countries in order to escape the laws.

However, President Obama is not the only head of state that will skip the Sochi Winter Olympics. Other authorities from France, Canada, Germany, Japan and the Great Britain, have also chosen not to go to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. On the other hand, Ueli Maurer, former President of Switzerland has called on government officials to not boycott the Olympics.

Personally, I think the boycott will only worsen the situation, considering the personality of President Putin. Nevertheless, politics should be kept separate from sports and the Olympics. For instance, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will ban players from attending games due to political gestures or slogans.


Yang Liu is a Master of International Affairs student at School of International Affairs, Penn State. With an economic undergraduate background, he is good at international economics and commercial diplomacy. Yang has a wide range of academic interests, and he is interested in several non-mainstream fields.


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