Fast forward to present day, and the same question has arisen: Should the U.S. boycott the Olympic Games in Russia again?
This time, however, the issue isn’t Russia’s invasion of other nations—it’s Russia’s stance on gay rights. A new national law signed by President Vladimir Putin in June make it illegal to openly discuss or display homosexuality in the presence of minors in Russia. Offenders— both citizens and visitors—are subject to jail time and fines for violating the law.
President Obama made his thoughts on the matter clear last Friday:
I know that one question that's been raised is, how do we approach the Olympics? I want to just make very clear right now, I do not think it's appropriate to boycott the Olympics. We've got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed. Nobody's more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you've been seeing in Russia, but as I said just this week, I've spoken out against that not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries where we continue to do work with them, but we have a strong disagreement on this issue. And one of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there. And if Russia doesn't have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker.
But what do gay Olympians think?
Greg Louganis is a gay athlete who won a total of four gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympic Games for diving. He also has personal experience with Olympic boycotts. Back in 1980, he was favored to win two gold medals in the Moscow games, but was unable to compete due to the boycott.
Louganis joins The Takeaway to discuss Russia's stance against LGBTQ people and whether or not that could hurt the games in 2014.