Rainbows over Sochi

So I watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics today – and applauded Thomas Bach, IOC President, for the courage and strength of his statement. The basics of his message were these: The Olympic games are about diversity and about building bridges, about friendship and mutual respect; they exist to support a growth of understanding and tolerance between all participants and their nations. No form of discrimination has a place in this event.

And rainbows were visible in the ceremony today.

The German team outfits… Yes, maybe not the greatest design achievement – but a loud and clear statement nonetheless. 

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And I was stunned to see the Russian-designed outfits of the volunteers that also feature all the colours of the rainbow. Rather strange, that.

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I spent the whole time I was watching the ceremony wondering what went on behind the scenes during the building and planning phase, what political influences and power struggles have shaped this whole event.

And now we wait to see how Russia will respond if some athletes choose to make a pro-gay statement in Sochi. Despite this open question, it’s encouraging to notice all the rainbows that are appearing around Sochi, be it on Channel 4 that changed its logo into rainbow colours yesterday, or on Google that added a rainbow design and quoted the Olympic Charter:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

The BBC sent Clare Balding to report from the Olympics. Because this is her job, and she’s good at it. And yes, she happens to be gay.

Putin’s grip on Sochi isn’t as tight as he would like it to be. The Olympics are bigger than Russia, and voices are heard that he would prefer silenced. 

He wanted the world to look at Russia. Now we do.

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