Sympathy for the Olympic Committee.

Yes, really. To summarise the situation, their condemnation of Russia’s latest legislative attacks on homosexuals has been lukewarm, and there’s rising uncertainty about how the Winter Olympics there are going to unfold in such a context.

The reason I don’t think this situation is easy is this. Any global sporting competition has to balance the facts that diverse nations will be competing, host countries must be rotated, and a lot of the world sucks and doesn’t (yet?) achieve high standards of liberal decency. I mean, Christ, even nations that have completely overcome historical legislative inequalities between the races and the sexes can still fail on gay rights insofar as marriage equality and so forth haven’t fully materialised yet. Is America next up as a non-viable host candidate?

Yes, the harm caused by Russia’s laws is probably a lot severer than that, and I really do get the intuition that a minimal level of political decency should be set (Of course any offers from North Korea can be swiftly binned). But Russia’s laws will not be making it impossible for gay people to compete, and the Olympic Committee has an interest in banning expressions of protest if we want to stop the whole thing descending into something other than the Games.

If any injustice in any society suffices to make a nation fail the ethical filter test, then that may as well signal the end of global sport right now.


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