BOTH of Australia’s men’s and women’s bobsleigh teams at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will fly the flag for LGBTI rights following a landmark sponsorship deal.
In the lead-up to the games, the sleds of the Australian bobsleigh squad will feature the logo of the Principle 6 campaign, which has been organised by LGBTI groups Athlete Ally and All Out to highlight the fight against discrimination and in protest against the Russian laws banning the positive depiction of LGBTI people and life in the country.
Named after the sixth principle of the Olympic Charter, Principle 6 stated that part of the International Olympic Committee’s aims were to “act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic movement.”
Although IOC president Thomas Bach has assured that LGBTI athletes would be safe at Sochi, the Russian Government has put in place tight controls on protests and communications during the two- and-a-half week event.
Australian bobsleigh captain Heath Spence said squad members would have been hypocritical if they did not publicly show their support to the LGBTI community.
“We’re against discrimination in sport, full stop,” Spence said in a statement.
“That means we also oppose discrimination against gay and lesbian athletes.
“We don’t just believe that on principle. Some of our most loyal supporters have been gay. They’ve supported us, so it would be hypocritical of us not to support them.”
Coach Steve Conkin said the sponsorship deal was initiated by the team and was a symbol of its support for diversity and inclusion.
“We feel that our team has a responsibility to the athlete community to foster a completely inclusive culture,” he said.