When will Russia learn?

Sochi 2014 - athletes, do you dare speak up?
Sochi 2014 – athletes, do you dare speak up?

It always impresses me how easy it is to catch up on the latest news when in Central London. Before I could even whip out my smartphone to check the latest happenings in the world, it is just easier to join the commuters and pick up the free papers that are scattered in and around the station. If you manage to walk past without picking up a copy, you can bet that there will be another opportunity waiting to be claimed just around the corner.

Seeing as my dissertation was due the next week I thought I would scan through the paper on my journey to a very important date to see if there is any useful content to include last minute. Lo and behold, the article that jumped out of the pages shocked, startled and angered me into reading more. The headline read, ‘ Team GB told not to wear kit on way to Sochi amid terror fears’.

My dissertation is focused on the Paralympics and how attitudes towards disability in this country have changed since the London 2012 Games. Within the study I touch on the point that other forms of discrimination could, as well as disability be challenged through the power of sport. Homophobia for example. With Russia’s ridiculous law against homosexuality, their human rights are completely in the wrong as far as any sane person can see.

The 56 British Olympians, who are competing at Sochi have sacrificed many things to become the athletes they need to be to compete competitively on the world stage. I’m sure they feel incredibly safe with the British Olympic Association (BOA) warning them not to wear their branded team kit that they have worked hard to achieve over years of tough campaigning. (I couldn’t help but include a sarky comment).

In addition to this, the International Olympic Committee (IOS) has warned athletes not to be involved in any political protest during the Winter Games. It seems ludicrous that an Olympic event is being held in a country that has many morals to catch up on in order to reflect the 21st century we live in today. The fact that an athlete will be punished for wearing rainbow studs or for choosing paint their nails in the colourful symbol is barbaric and totally goes against what the democratic sporting event is meant to stand for.

As well as the obvious physicality that is necessary during the sporting event, the mental challenges and pressures can be just as intense for the athletes competing in the Games. Let alone being kept under control and forced to keep quiet by the IOS, it is clear that in Russia, only the States opinion matters. Even when hosting an event that in the past has challenged and defeated such bigoted attitudes towards discrimination. When will Russia learn?

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