ESPN host Keith Olbermann pointed out early signs of panic from corporate sponsors in America over Russia’s anti-LGBT laws on his Monday show.
A senior official on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said sponsors are “afraid” of the fallout that could occur if there are demonstrations at the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
“I think this could ruin a lot for all of us,” marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg said. “We have to be prepared.”
Sochi organizers pleaded with the IOC to “stop this campaign and this speculation,” but there is no reasonable intervention that could stop demonstrations or even a boycott from happening.
“There might be an American boycott of the Olympics, but much more likely — at least reading the tea leaves of the remarks of that terrified IOC marketing chairman — much more likely is a boycott by advertisers or the American broadcasts of the Sochi Olympics,” Olbermann observed. “And if the advertisers bail — and they could bail out over the Russian anti-gay laws or the Russian stance on Syria or the quality of NBC’s announcing team, it doesn’t matter which — the Russians are screwed, and the American telecasts are screwed and, in the only thing that matters to the International Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee is screwed.”
Olbermann said “amoral power broker” IOC President Jacques Rogge “carried the Russians’ water for them” when he promised to remind athletes that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Days later, in July, a Russian official announced that pro-gay attendees at the games would be subject to arrest if they were found in violation of Russia gay propaganda ban.
Russian President Vladimir Putin assured the IOC last week that the “homosexual propaganda” ban would not be enforced at the games.
Olbermann said sponsors will not be subject to a repeat of the 1936 Olympics, when Adolf Hitler hosted the games in Berlin. In lieu of a boycott, the U.S. track and field team benched Jewish-American runner Marty Glickman to appease the Fuhrer. He pointed out that African American runner Jesse Owens was allowed to run in Berlin and took home four gold medals.
“So Owens raced and won, and Hitler didn’t attempt genocide against African Americans,” Olbermann explained. “But Marty Glickman’s relatives in Europe … they wound up in the camps. Whatever we did or did not do in the 1936 Olympics, it does not sound like we made the right call.”
“However, just mentioning them now, just comparing the 2014 Sochi ‘MasterCard’ Olympics to Hitler’s master race Olympics, this has terrified the money,” he added. “And the money terrified is money that will do what you want.”