Opinion: Let the games be the games

Kent+Kirker+is+a+junior+Education+major+and+columnist+for+the+Daily+Kent+Stater.+Contact+him+at+kkirker%40kent.edu.

Kent Kirker is a junior Education major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Kent Kirker

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia is just days away. Many issues have arisen from the placement of these games in the past year or so, mostly pertaining to LGBT community and the rights in which they are held. On Jun. 30, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning the advertisement of so-called “non-traditional” sexual relations to minors. The bill was the result of a long-time buildup of protests and legislation. This is in addition to the regional bans of Pride parades and the ability to register with non-governmental organizations.

I understand the need to ban propaganda from certain people; however, what is the point if they are already privy to it? As an American, I believe our country has one of the best constitutions ever written, which not only outlines the many rights we have as citizens but was also inspired by various foreign entities. Therefore, the rights included within our governing document are essential universal rights of human beings. It is with that logic that I feel the Russian government is taking unnecessary, unprecedented and discriminatory actions in enforcing this current bill.

While this has been sinking into the minds of Russian citizens, Russia itself has been preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — a city that also has reflected intolerance in its own community. Recently in an interview with BBC, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov was asked about how he felt about gay people. He responded: “We don’t have them in our town” — clearly untrue based on the gay bar that was featured earlier in the interview. The mayor also stated that everyone was welcome as long as they adhere to Russian law.

The political jockeying taking place in Russia hasn’t stopped President Barack Obama from making unprecedented decisions himself. In December 2013, the White House made what USA Today called “a strong message of opposition” in nominating former tennis legend and winner of the battle of the sexes match, Billy Jean King, an openly gay woman. Clearly the U.S. is making a point, and it doesn’t stop there. The closing ceremony delegation will also include two-time Olympic medalist in women’s ice hockey, Caitlin Cahow, who also happens to be openly gay. While the sexual orientation of these women is not important, an evident statement is being asserted by their nomination to the delegation.

Someone’s sexual orientation should have no bearing on he or she as a person, especially during an event of worldwide exclusivity as the Olympics. I commend the International Olympic Committee for being a fully inclusive organization that doesn’t care about its participants’ sexual orientations but only that they are among the best at what they do and strive to be better. The IOC and the Olympic games have always prided themselves on encouraging a community of diversity and multi-cultural expression. Let’s allow it to stand at that — an expression of unity and peace, not politics and division.

The 2014 games start Feb. 7. Here’s to a great start to the XXII Winter Olympic Games. Go Team USA — bring home the gold!