Hints of Russians’ Return to International Sports Rekindle Debate Over Their Exclusion
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics to PyeongChang, the first country selected for the Olympics since 1998 to have won the right to host the Games more than once. The country’s winning bid had been widely criticized by the international community, particularly in Russia, which had led the International Olympic Committee in awarding PyeongChang to South Korea last month.
Now, Russian athletes are returning to the Winter Olympic Games for the first time in 14 years after the country’s anti-gayity laws, which were meant to punish “gay propaganda”, have largely been repealed. The Russian bid for PyeongChang included a rainbow-colored flag with the Russian Olympic Committee logo that symbolized the country’s national pride, but the IOC noted that Russia’s flag was not legally allowed.
Also on Monday, the International Paralympic Committee announced that it would not accept Russia’s revised bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, though IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC is still reviewing the situation. At an IOC meeting in Russia in April, Russian athletes were criticized by some of their international colleagues when their team won the right to compete at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, but IOC President Thomas Bach said he did not believe that the international community viewed the decision as a political decision, despite Russia’s failure to make the original winning bid.
In the summer of 2018, Russia’s Anti-LGBT Law was brought into effect to silence and punish LGBT people who did not want to be openly gay in society. The law, which had existed since 1997, penalizes the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations between individuals of the same sex”. It also criminalizes the “recording or broadcasting” of gay pornography, as well as the creation of “public information about social or traditional sexual relations involving same-sex individuals”.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the law as “a modern anti-gayity law, which will be the basis for the fight against the LGBT community,” but it has been criticized