The Olympic games are intended to promote unity and friendly competition amongst the nations of the world without the specter of international conflict and politics hanging overhead. However, one Russian law is threatening to alienate — and potentially endanger — many athletes flocking to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games.
Russian president Vladmir Putin recently signed a bill banning “homosexual propaganda” from the country at risk of being fined or arrested . Yet, the “homosexual propaganda” has been interpreted as any open display of homosexuality or support of homosexuality in the country, and the law has helped foment a rabid, violent anti-gay fervor in the country, according to The New York Times. Now, the Russian minister of sport, Vitaly Mutko, said the law will be enforced for athletes.
“No one is forbidding a sportsman with a nontraditional sexual orientation to come to Sochi,” Mutko said to the state-run R-Sport. “But if he goes out on the street and starts to propagandize it, then of course he will be held accountable. Even if he’s a sportsman, when he comes to a country, he should respect its laws.”
Earlier on, the International Olympic Committee expressed cautious optimism that the games would take place in a non-discriminatory fashion, according to ABC News.
"This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi," the IOC said in an emailed statement to ABC News. "The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."
This no longer appears to be the case, though, but one “openly gay New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, has already pledged to wear a rainbow pin during the games,” according to ABC News.