Russian activists plan gay-friendly Olympics

  • Updated: October 26, 2013 - 5:48 PM
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Swedish solidarity: A crowd sang the Russian national anthem at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium on Oct. 6, while raising rainbow flags to show support for Russian gays and lesbians.

Photo: Erik Martensson • TT News Agency,

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– Russian activists are making 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 nine events, including basketball, swimming and indoor soccer.

“I’m not afraid,” said Viktor Romanov, who is organizing the effort. “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 Putin to claim that, “In Russia there are no laws which punish sexual minorities.”

It remains unclear whether Romanov’s Olympic intentions will make him a criminal.

So far, the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, of which 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. Moscow has spent an estimated $50 ­billion on 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.

New York Times

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