Is Stephen Fry Right About The Olympics?

Stephen Fry has written an open letter calling for a ban on the Winter Olympics coming up in Russia in 2014. Is he right? I don’t think he his, and here’s why…

His open letter was addressed to David Cameron, Jacques Rogge, Sebastian Coe and other members of the IOC, and it’s received wide coverage in the media. In it he calls for a total ban on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, due to Russia’s treatment of LGBT people.

Beaten up in the street, with police standing by doing nothing.

Abhorrent as that may be, ‘banning’ the Olympics as Fry calls it, is not the answer, in my view.

The problem is this, would there ever be an Olympics ever again – where would you hold them? Presumably somewhere with ‘acceptable’ policies. Hmm, acceptable policies on what? Who judges what is acceptable and what isn’t?

Is it not a slippery slope for a global sports organisation to be playing politics?

The IOC itself has been no stranger to corruption in the past of course, and some would say even now, in the way it bulldozes over national politics when it agrees to stage a Games in a country. Maybe we should just forget the whole idea on the Olympics altogether?


Did Stephen say the 2008 games in China should be stopped? There must be any number of people who say the British government has dubious practices – should 2012 not have happened?

I ask again – Where *would* they be held?

The idea is that sport, particularly the Olympics, brings people together to foster understanding and engagement. With the boycotts of Moscow in 1980 and LA in 1984, what politics did it change?

It *did* spoil the games for the young people taking part though, or not being allowed to take part. In many cases, people only get one chance at an Olympics, and it was taken away from them – for what, with what result?

I guess that’s the other side of the coin.

I just don’t think it would achieve what people think it might, and I think we can look to evidence of past boycotts – I simply don’t think it works, but worse than that, it can foster disengagement and isolation, the opposites of what we want to improve things.

One answer could be to hold every Olympics in the same place – Greece maybe? Of course that would lead to all sorts of other problems, plus people would still say ‘we’re not going if they are’, and we’d be back at the same situation.

The LGBT community in Russia is going through a horrible time, that’s for sure. Is banning or boycotting the Olympics the answer? No, I don’t think it is.

Do let me know what you think!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
P.S. You can read Stephen’s letter here

Do leave a comment!

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  • There is a major difference here. Russia has promised to inflict its laws on LGBT on the Olympians.
    My suggestion would be to opt for many LGBT participants. Include protection for the participants. (This latter applies in any case. I would not trust the ability- or desire- of the Russian police to protect the athletes against any and all calamities.) And, stick that in the eye of the troglodytes.

    • Interesting Roy, I didn’t know that. Although the idea of extra LGBT athletes works, it would be positive discrimination, which again goes against my ideals of sport?
      Cheers, Gordon

    • Hi Carin,
      I can understand the logic behind the idea of boycott – “right we’ll punish them in a big way” – unfortunately the past has shown that Olympic boycotts change little, but cause a lot of damage instead.
      Fingers crossed for a better solution!

    • Hi Michelle,
      I just don’t think it would make any difference. In any case there is no way the IOCwould do anything about it only a few months away – individual countries might boycott, but I suspect it wouldn’t change anything,

  • I agree with everything you say Gordon, but I do think it’s a good thing Stephen Fry wrote the letter. Ban the Olympics?? What an idea! It got us all talking about it, the media mulling the whole thing over, protests during the World Champs etc etc. So while I don’t agree with banning the Olympics, and exactly as you say on that basis the Beijing Olympics would never have happened, I do think the debate and furore has been a good thing.

    • Hi Harriet,
      Of course you are right – it got a lot of publicity, and as someone who has been high profile for many years, Stephen used the letter precisely for that purpose, and a good job it’s done too!