In perhaps the clearest signal that calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Russia have fallen on deaf ears, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has insisted it will not move the 2014 Games away from the country in protest over recently enacted nationwide laws against so-called ‘gay propaganda’.
The message from the IOC has come in response to a letter from Greens leader Christine Milne sent mid-last month which was exclusively revealed by the Star Observer and called on organisers to consider changing the location of the Games early next year from the Russian city of Sochi to another country such as Canada.
Writing back to Milne, IOC director general Christophe de Kepper said in a letter seen by the Star Observer that he agreed with her that the Games should be “free of any kind of discrimination” but that the organisation had to also respect the laws of sovereign nations.
“Moving the Olympic Games to another location is something that is not being discussed,’ De Kepper wrote. “Organising the Olympic Games is a seven-year process and a complex exercise for any Organising Committee. Any suggestion to move one addition of the Games to a city that previously hosted them is unrealistic and unfeasible for many reasons.
“To give you just one example, the athletes’ rooms in the Olympic Village in Vancouver have been converted into apartments and have become home to hundreds of families. Finding another location to accommodate the athletes would be impossible six months away from the Games. There are many more technical, financial and security reasons that make such a proposal unfeasible.”
Milne told the Star Observer that although unsurprising she certainly was not satisfied by the IOC’s response.
“We may have reassurances that the games will be free from discrimination but their decision is based entirely on logistics: we’re essentially being told it’s too hard to move the games regardless of the appalling reports we’ve heard out of Russia in recent times,” she said.
“Given the seven year lead time for a decision, what priority did the IOC place on the responsibility under their own charter to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement?
“I intend to write back to ask the IOC how it incorporates this principle into its decision making, or is it now just window dressing and determined by geo-politics?”
With it seeming less likely the IOC will relocate the event, there are growing calls now for corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Visa and McDonald’s to not be involved with the Games when they commence next February.