Sochi 2014 - A Quandry

Submitted by Matt on Sat, 17/08/2013 - 21:46:33

I've just spent a couple of hours catching up on the week's television - it's fascinating how TV watching habits have changed since the introduction of Personal Video Recorders such as Sky+ and Freesat/View+.  

Nevertheless, I recorded a programme shown last Wednesday which looked at the 1980 Summer Olympic Games which were held in Moscow.  Back then, when I was a mere two years old, Russia was still firmly under the grip of communism and had only just invaded Afghanistan.  Both the United States and Great Britain tried to boycott the games, although some athletes decided to compete anyway under the flag of the games.  

What particularly resonated with me, and something I hadn't realised before, is that Duncan Goodhew won Gold in Moscow, and although he competed for Great Britain at the games, when he was presented with the Gold Medal, it wasn't under the Union Flag with 'God Save the Queen' playing, but under the Olympic flag, and to the official Olympic music.  I cannot begin to understand how that must have felt; to win for your country, but in some way that achievement not being recognised because your government doesn't want to be seen as being represented at the event.

It seems that the Sochi Winter Olympics, again to be held in Russia, are not without controversy.  I recently saw come comments made by Blake Skjellerup, a New Zealand speed skater who is openly gay about whether or not to compete in the games in view of the Russian anti-gay propaganda laws.  It seems that he's made up his mind and will be going, and this led me to hearing about the Australian diver, Matthew Mitcham, and his 'outing' just before the 2008 Beijing games where he won gold - the guy is out and proud.  

The words of Dick Pound, a former IOC member stuck with me following the documentary.  He was pretty clear that "a boycott of the Olympics is not effective" and that any politican that suggested a boycott is "inept".  Wise words.