Should we separate the Olympics and politics?

World leaders are right to boycott the games, and the IOC is ignoring its mission.

by Luis Ruuska

From unfinished hotels with complimentary yellow tap water to balmier weather than in the Twin Cities, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have not been short of headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. While these issues are really the butt of jokes rather than actual controversies, the Olympics boycott has been anything but a laughing matter. President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all boycotted the games. These boycotts arose because of RussiaâÄôs ban on âÄúgay propaganda,âÄù though activists have also brought up censorship, corruption and fraud within the Russian government. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach lambasted leaders who refused to appear at the Olympics. In a speech before the games, he said, âÄú[The Olympics] should not be used as a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contents.âÄù But what better time is there for world leaders to stand together in solidarity to condemn oppressive governments? One of the Olympic CharterâÄôs âÄúFundamental Principles of OlympismâÄù reads, âÄúAny form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.âÄù Furthermore, one of the IOCâÄôs self-declared missions is to âÄúact against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement.âÄù World leadersâÄô Olympic boycott isnâÄôt an act of insubordination; itâÄôs an act that adheres to the principles the IOC has ignored in choosing Russia as a host country. While the U.S. doesnâÄôt have an entirely clean record when it comes to social justice, at least itâÄôs making slow progress, unlike Russia, which is clutching on to its ignorance. ItâÄôs time we stop turning a blind eye to the political shortcomings of Olympic-bidding and hosting countries and start holding them to a higher moral and political standard.