Johnny Weir will be serving as a figure skating analyst for NBC at the Sochi Olympics, but he’s disappointed some people:
… Despite his sexual orientation, despite his marriage to a man in 2011, despite his long track record of (not always wisely) saying what is on his mind, Weir said Wednesday that he planned to hold his tongue in Sochi, at least when it comes to speaking out against the Russian law.
“I risk jail time just going there, but the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement,” he said. “I’m not a politician and I don’t really talk about politics. You don’t have to agree with the politics, but you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting.”…
“Self-proclaimed Russophile” Weir may be taking his cues from …
MOSCOW — Viktor Romanov smiles slyly as he explains his plans to hold gay-friendly Olympics in Moscow just three days after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. These “Open Games” will be for athletes of any orientation and will consist of eight events, including basketball, badminton, swimming and indoor soccer.
“I’m not afraid,” Mr. Romanov said, weathered hands wiping tea from his salt-and-pepper stubble. “I’m apprehensive. We don’t know how the government will take this.”
The passage in June of a federal law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships to minors” set off a sustained international outcry and calls to boycott the Sochi Olympics, prompting President Vladimir V. Putin to claim that, “In Russia there are no laws which punish sexual minorities.” Nevertheless, nobody has a clear sense of how the newest statute, specifically the term “propaganda,” will be interpreted.
Sport, Mr. Romanov believes, will be the perfect cover for gay men and lesbians to gather.
Mr. Romanov, a retired investigator for the Soviet and Russian security services, cuts a fatherly figure, wearing faded jeans, a brown leather jacket and worn white sneakers. It remains unclear whether Mr. Romanov’s Olympic intentions will make him a criminal.
So far, the Russian L.G.B.T. Sport Federation, of which Mr. Romanov is chairman of the board, has managed to skirt the ire of the state. The organization is officially registered with the Russian Ministry of Sport but not supported. The Kremlin recently rejected the federation’s application for financing of the Open Games, despite pouring an estimated $50 billion into the Sochi Games.
Instead, the Open Games will be financed through participation fees, individual online donations and, the organizers hope, grants from international supporters. They have invited athletes from across Russia, as well as from abroad.
“Sport is a universal instrument to solve many different problems,” Konstantin Yablotskiy, a figure skater and president of the organization, said. “For some, like me, it makes it possible to forget about everything. When I skate, I only think about music and movement, and that’s wonderful, especially now.”…
No one, as yet, has been convicted under the federal homosexual propaganda law, though propaganda charges have been filed against an activist who held a one-man protest for gay rights in Kazan, the 2018 World Cup host city. Four Dutch filmmakers working on a documentary about Russian gays were arrested in Murmansk in July, but the case was quickly dropped.
“No one knows where the lines are now,” Mr. Yablotskiy said. “In 2012, after these laws were passed in St. Petersburg, we held a sports festival there. We all painted rainbows on our cheeks, walked around the city and rode the metro. Children saw us, but no one said anything. Was that ‘propaganda?’ ”…
“It’s somewhat good that there’s a place where people can be themselves,” Igor Kochetkov, the chairman of the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, a human rights group, said. “But it’s a ghetto.”