In the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia, a turn of events has created a scenario in which gay athletes are taking pride for attendance but President Obama is not attending and is also taking White House officials out of the game.
The 2014 Olympic games are set to open Feb. 7 in Sochi. The White House officials and athletes that were meant to lead the opening ceremony delegation were: former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Presidential Adviser Rob Nabors, tennis champion Billie Jean King, figure skater Brian Boitano, and some others. The closing ceremony was to be led by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Caitlin Cahow who competes in ice hockey, and others. Though the President stated that due to scheduling he would not be attending the ceremony, it now seems that he has taken all White House officials out of the ceremony in order to snub Russian President Putin.
Why? Perhaps because of an anti-gay legislation passed last year in Russia that banned all “homosexual propaganda”.
So now the opening and closing ceremonies will apparently only include athletes, two of whom are openly gay, Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, and one of whom has just recently made a statement regarding sexuality, Brian Boitano.
When Sochi, Russia was first chosen for the 2014 Olympics the proud gay athletes stood firm by gladly accepting the chance to go represent the U.S., while Obama stated that he could not make it, he had no opposition to the White House officials attending the opening ceremony where the Winter Olympics would be hosted.
But after hearing about this, the group Human Rights First pushed the President to make a statement to President Putin of Russia by opting out of attendance for White House officials. A notice was later posted on the White House website stating that White House officials would, for sure, not be in attendance at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The opposition of the violation of gay rights in Russia has apparently spread as others are electing to refrain from attending. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite also stated that she would not be attending due to the violation of rights.
When asked if he thought the U.S. should boycott the 2014 Olympics altogether during a press conference, President Obama replied by stating that he was hoping that one of the gay athletes bringing home a medal would make a statement and set an example for Russia.
As the 2014 Olympics get off to a bad start due to controversy in hosting proud gay athletes, while also being snubbed by Obama and the White House, the winter games in Sochi are already bringing bad luck upon themselves as the torch is experiencing a plagued journey.
Since the hand off of the torch by President Putin on Oct. 6, many events have occurred that seem to be causing superstition. The flaming torch, meant to make a four month journey across 40,000 miles, has gone out several times. This event, while obviously not the worst thing that could happen, led to a torchbearer’s jacket catching fire and the untimely death of another torchbearer, Vadim Gorbenko, who died from a heart attack after carrying the torch 500 feet.
Bad luck or a sign? Many are wondering as worldly leaders and citizens are becoming reluctant to attend. As the 2014 Olympics are just a little over a month away we await the results as athletes take charge of the ceremony, without Obama or officials, in a country where gay pride is illegal.
By Crystal Boulware