It’s beginning to look like the IOC’s decision to let a brutal regime with an appalling disregard for human rights host the Olympics isn’t going as well as it did five years ago in China.
As most people who haven’t been living under a rock or perhaps in a Siberian gulag know, hopes for a warm and fuzzy Sochi Games have gone off the rails due to new Russian anti-gay laws that make it illegal to say anything nice about the love that formerly dared not speak its name, never mind actively engage in it.
Nobody is quite sure what to do about it. President Vladimir Putin, who Russian polls indicate has the support of 12 out of every 10 Russians, clearly couldn’t care less about the opinions of the international community. Just ask Pussy Riot, Garry Kasparov or a Syrian guerilla. Last week, the country’s sports minister even turned it up a notch by announcing he wouldn’t rule out arresting visiting athletes who defy the law.
People have expressed their outrage by calling for a boycott of Russian or even vaguely Russian-sounding vodka. A Facebook group called “Send A Dildo To Vladimir Putin” quickly sprang up urging people to mail new or used sex toys to the oft-shirtless former KGB hitman’s office in the hope it might somehow change his mind on gay rights. After all, it worked on Dick Cheney.
Many more have called for a boycott of the Games themselves, just like we did in 1980 over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan (awkward), or at the very least not bother to watch them on TV.
George Takei, however, has a better solution. Earlier this week, the iconic gay activist best known for playing Lt. Sulu on Star Trek suggested Vancouver should simply host the event again and has launched a petition at change.org that at press time had already garnered close to 65,000 signatures. We think this is a fabulous idea for a number of reasons:
• The infrastructure is already here. Not only do we have all the sporting venues in place but the Olympic Village is still mostly empty after apartments that were promised to become social housing were instead put on the market. We’ve also proven that, even if it doesn’t snow, we’re still able to truck it in to any outdoor events that may require it.
• It would provide an opportunity to show we don’t always necessarily riot when we lose important hockey games. And, even if the men’s hockey team manages to win gold again, the inevitably enormous police presence will surely ensure we won’t destroy the city again even if we try. As an added bonus, given that nobody is entirely sure if Roberto Luongo is going to show up at Canucks training camp this year, it also very well might be our last chance to cheer on Funny Bob on home ice.
• It’s not like we’ll ever wear those stupid red mittens or baby-blue hoodies again otherwise.
• We could potentially mend fences with Quebeckers, who were reportedly offended their culture wasn’t adequately represented last time, and prohibit participating athletes from wearing turbans for “safety reasons.”
• We would belatedly have an opportunity to see the top women ski jumpers compete now that the boneheaded decision to exclude them has been repealed.
• The anti-gentrification types would have a legitimate target to protest against instead of just some random Gastown restaurant.
• Poet Shane Koyzcan, who inspired countless Canadians with his We Are More speech in the 2010 opening ceremony, might still be available. He has since gone on to reach an even wider audience with his viral anti-bullying poem To This Day. Apparently it’s a lesson a lot of people still need to learn.
(This post was first published in Kudos & Kvetches © Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier)