Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), said
this week that athletes competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in
Sochi should “comply” with a Russian anti-gay law.
The law recently signed by President Vladimir Putin prohibits the
positive portrayal of gay men and lesbians in a public setting where
minors might be present. It has created a worldwide outcry, calls
for a boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, and has
increased tension between the United States and Russia.
“The athletes are always going into countries with laws
different than his or her own country,” Blackmun told Russia's
“They're going to agree with those laws in some ways, they're
going to disagree with those laws in other ways. It's our strong
desire that our athletes comply with the laws of every nation that we
visit. This law is no different.”
In a series of tweets, USOC communications director Patrick
Sandusky expanded on Blackmun's remarks, saying that the USOC does
not “endorse the law.”
“At every Olympics, [we] ask athletes to respect the laws of the
host country for their safety,” Sandusky tweeted. “Doesn't mean
we endorse the law … it's inconsistent w fundamental Olympic
principles and we have shared our view w IOC.”
Blackmun echoed those sentiments in a letter last week to the
Olympic and Paralympic community. BuzzFeed
was first to publish the letter.
“We strongly support equal rights for all and believe that laws
restricting the right to act and speak in support of the LGBT
community are inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the
Olympic and Paralympic movements. We have shared our views with the
IOC. At the same time, however, we cannot forget that we are first
and foremost a sports organization. Our mission is to help enable
American athletes to win medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Our overriding obligation is to deliver a well-prepared team and to
support our athletes, all of them. That is where we will direct our
energies,” Blackmun wrote in part.