Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a growing chorus of voices calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi because of the Russian government's stance on homosexuality.
The worldwide outcry is particularly in response to new laws that would allow Russian authorities to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian or “pro-gay.”
Some are not just calling for a boycott — there's about 66,000 people (as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday) who have signed a petition asking the International Olympics Committee to relocate the Games to Vancouver.
Jacques Rogge, President - International Olympics Commmittee (IOC)
Please relocate the 2014 Winter Games to Vancouver
In 2010 they successfully held the games. The facilities are already in place and can be made, with support, ready in the limited time period to host another games.
We appreciate your efforts in requesting Russia allow gay athletes to compete at the games, but this is not enough. The very nature of the original Olympics was to settle conflict through sport and not violence. You are now presented to adopt this stance as an organisation by removing the Games away from Russia, telling them we, the world, will not tolerate the abhorrent persecution of minority groups.
It should be noted that the petition is posted at Change.org — anyone can sign their petitions using either real or fake contact information.
But, on Tuesday, the petition received some high profile support.
"There is a petition gathering strength demanding the Olympics be relocated to Vancouver, which played host in 2010," Takei, best known for his portrayal of helmsman Lt. Sulu in the Star Trek television series, wrote.
"All of the facilities are still in good condition, so this would likely be the easiest of possible alternatives. If you agree, and I hope you do, please take a few moments to sign the petition here. With enough support, maybe the IOC and the sponsors will realize that this is a disaster in the making, and the best course is to move immediately and decisively to relocate the Winter Games of 2014."
Takei is right about the venues.
Most if not all are still intact: Rogers Arena for hockey and figure skating, the Richmond Oval for speed skating, the Pacific Coliseum for curling and Whistler Olympic Park for cross country and downhill skiing, ski jumping, bobsleigh, skeleton, etc..
Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs, however, suggests that the petition isn't practical.
"I can understand the intention, but practically I don’t see how it could happen," he told CP.
"I think lots of people in Vancouver would love to have the Games again, but it’s a question of who would pay for it and how it could possibly be done, and I don’t think we know the answer to either of those questions."
Late last month, Yahoo! Canada News ran the idea by former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong. His response was similar to Meggs.'
"I believe there is zero chance of this happening. If the IOC were having issues with Sochi on any significant matter I expect they would get them worked out," he said.
"The notion of moving Games has been the subject of discussion and been written about over the years – and I have been asked before. It does make interesting reading, but practically speaking would never happen. Even if the desire was there – the logistics hurdles would be insurmountable."
If you still want to sign the petition, you can do so here.
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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