Greg Louganis on Russia's Anti-Gay Laws & The 2014 Olympics

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back in 1980, the U.S. boycotted the Olympic games—which were being held in Moscow—in an act of protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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.

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Guests:

Greg Louganis

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

Jason from Austin

I agree with Angel...Russia has bigger issues then anti-gay issues. I think the Host thinks that 'Gay issues' in Russia especially with the 2013 Track and Field Championships is the most important subject. Focus on the people, especially the athletes that are there.
Listening to NPR all day at work, I can understand why people think NPR is a pro-gay station.

Aug. 14 2013 11:40 AM
T. Palermo

I enjoyed this story, but not how the names of "those athletes who gave black power salutes" were omitted from the discussion – Tommie Smith and John Carlos are their names, and your research team should have provided them so they could be referred to by name. Mexico '68 was that long ago.

Aug. 13 2013 03:54 PM
Edward Hershey from Portland, Ore,

Why no mention of Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller in Berlin in '36?

Aug. 13 2013 12:54 PM
Angel from Miami FL

Louganis, George Takei, and many others must be the most self-centered people on the planet right now. Russia has a leader who is basically a dictator. There's no freedom of expression. They favor Syria and other meanies around the world. Oligarchs pretty much run the country. Corruption is rampant. Their driving is horrifying - at least enough to be added to this list. Are anti-gay laws the line we want to draw right now?

Aug. 13 2013 09:55 AM
Charles

Who needs the Sixth Fleet, the Strategic Air Command or NATO?

The Russians are about to meet a foe they will never forget; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender activist community, and Hollywood. The Russkies don't stand a chance.

Aug. 13 2013 09:47 AM

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