As the Winter Olympics begin this week on Vladimir Putin’s home-turf in Sochi, Russia, I’m wrestling with whether to watch.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Olympics and I love the stories of athletes who worked their entire lives to reach this moment. But, I’m torn by the idea of supporting an Olympics games hosted by a world leader such as Putin.
Putin’s outspoken homophobia and desires to “cleanse” Russia of homosexuals is unacceptable to me. Too strong a whiff of Hitler there (any whiff is too strong, really).
And then there is the imprisonment of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot. They were arrested and convicted of “hooliganism” for … playing music in public places that also served as peaceful protests.
Only recently freed from prison, group members went head to head with Stephen Colbert this week.
So, to watch or not to watch.
don’t want to end up punishing the wrong parties (like American
As an individual viewer and not, say, a world leader, what difference would it make?
According to CNN commentator Hilary Rosen, herself a gay activist, not watching the games would do very little: “Here’s how I look at it: Russia doesn’t make any more money if the ratings are high, versus if the ratings are low.”
Still, a poll conducted by YouGov reveals that 11 percent of Americans will not watch the Olympics this year because of Putin’s policies.
That’s a lot of Americans.
Could that kind of backlash trickle down and over to Russia, via a future reticence to engage with a such a political regime? Coca-Cola and McDonalds might think twice before sponsoring the event in Russia again.
I’m erring on the side of caution and will sit this one out. Besides, Pussy Riot asked me to.