As I'm sure you're well aware Russia has recently passed legislation forbidding LGBT people in Russia from being open about their sexuality. As a result people in Russia now face jail time and are persecuted openly both by the police and private citizens who have been able to openly express their bigotry. History will not look kindly at the events currently unfolding in Russia.
Recently the IOC has warned athletes against displaying solidarity as it violates their policy on making political statement, Russia's treatment of LGBT people is not a political issue though as much as it is simply an issue of basic human rights.
The Canadian men's hockey team are possibly the highest profile group of athletes appearing at the games, and also the ones who have the least to lose by not appearing. As athletes their careers are already assured and withdrawing from the Olympics would not hurt them in any way. As celebrities in North America their withdrawal from the Winter Games would send a strong message to the rest of the Olympic community.
Finally, the NHL and NHLPA recently created a partnership with The You Can Play Project to help educate about and combat homophobia in the NHL. What kind of message do you players send when you speak about ending homophobia on one hand while supporting the hateful policies of a cruel and repressive regime on the other?
What is more important, standing on a podium or standing on the right side of history?
- Executive Director, Team Canada
Withdraw from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia
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