Openly gay former NBA player John Amaechi penned an open letter to the National Olympics Committee and athletes competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics on his site. He urged them not to ignore Russia's horrific anti-gay laws while they compete, but publicly speak out against them.
It's a powerful argument against the crowd that tells athletes and media to "stick to sports" and not hold opinions on anything outside of their career focus. Amaechi obviously understands that no one agrees with Russia's torture of gay children, but silence is harmful and ignoring the issue. He asks athletes with that kind of platform to take advantage of the opportunity.
Reasonable people can argue whether your ‘job’ is to win medals, to ski, skate, shoot and whatever else you do better than anyone else in the world. But as a former athlete myself, I know that what we do in practice and competition is only one small part of of our job. Many of you are icons in your respective sports, inspirational to a generation of young people who hang on your every tweet, ape your every action and follow your every suggestion. As such, it is your responsibility - as much as the quest for gold - to show the world that you understand that sport, especially Olympic sport, IS intrinsically political. It is your responsibility as you prepare to go to Sochi to publicly acknowledge that your games happen on the backs of the abuse of migrant workers, the threatening of environmental activists and journalists, the ‘disappearance’ of €25 billion and indeed, in the context of a country that is facilitating and then ignoring the torture of young gay boys and girls.
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