Support Olympic Athletes’ Right to Political Protest


Target: Thomas Bach, President, International Olympic Committee

Goal: Allow Olympic athletes to publicly voice their support for human rights and opinions of political dissent

Amidst worldwide discussion of Russia’s record of systematic human rights abuses, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reiterated its official stance that participants in the winter games at Sochi are banned from engaging in political demonstrations. This includes any pro-LGBT protests such as waving of rainbow flags, comments about Russia’s recently implemented anti-gay legislation, or publicly identifying as a gay individual. The IOC considers these actions to be political and potentially contentious. They are wrong. The treatment of human beings with dignity and respect is not political; it is typical and expected of any civilized person or nation. 

The fact that the IOC awarded a nation with a staggering history of human rights abuses to host the Olympics is exceptionally problematic. However, discouraging athletes from self-identifying with the LGBT community and from calling out Russia’s horrendous behavior is downright egregious. Vladimir Putin’s political machine has silenced the voices of Russia’s citizens and stripped them of their rights. Now, as leader of the host country for the 2014 Olympic Games, Putin will be profiting in monetary remuneration from tourism and commerce, as well as gaining international prestige. It is deplorable that participants in the games are prohibited from speaking out against Russia’s numerous atrocities. Sign the petition  below and demand that IOC President Thomas Bach allow athletes at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi the freedom of individual expression.


Dear Thomas Bach,

With the 2014 Olympic opening ceremony looming closer and closer, there has been much talk over Rule 50 of the IOC Charter–a rule prohibiting participants from making political demonstrations or gestures. However, strict adherence to the rules was lost when Russia was awarded the Winter Games, as it is in clear violation of the sixth Fundamental Principle of Olympicism, stating that “any 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.”

Russia’s history of human rights abuses (and particularly its recent anti-gay legislation) is a topic on which Olympic participants should be permitted to voice their concerns. Gay athletes should be able to self-identify with the LGBT community without their speech being considered polemical. Olympic participants who choose to to call for change in the horribly broken system that is Putin’s political machine should not be silenced. Allow athletes freedom of expression at the 2014 Olympic Games.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: TofflerAnn via Flickr

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131 Signatures

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