Russia: Gay Athletes ‘The Business Of The Country That Sends Them’ To Olympics

AP

The organizing committee for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia is considering gay athletes “the business of the country that sends them” to the games.

President Barack Obama, who said his busy schedule precludes him from attending the games, named three gay athletes to the official U.S. delegation to the Olympics. Figure skater Brian Boitano came out as gay soon after the delegation was announced, joining tennis icon Billie Jean King and hockey player Caitlin Cahow.

“When it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance, we don’t make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation,” Obama said at a year-end press conference. 

“Who the members of the delegation are, is the business of the country that sends them [to the Olympics],” Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, told NBC News when asked about Obama’s remarks.

Russia has been criticized in the international community for its anti-gay propaganda laws, which prompted a number of world leaders and rights groups to call for a boycott. German President Joachim Gauck is among those who said they would skip the games to protest human rights violations.

“The Americans or the Germans include people who they think are necessary [for their delegations],” Zukov told NBC News. “I guess this is how they see the faces of their country.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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