Johnny Weir, an Olympic figure skater, is joining the NBC's coverage team of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He told The New York Times that he will not make any declarations against the new controversial Russian anti-gay law despite the fact that he opposes it, the law prohibits the promotion of nontraditional sexual relationships to minors.
Weir had said to the Associated Press that he would talk about this sensitive issue, but later changed his mind when he talked to the Times.
As Weir doesn't consider himself a politician, he has chosen not to make a political statement at the Olympics, adding that when visiting a country "you have to respect the culture of the country."
Weir, who is married to a Russian man, said: "It's pretty obvious that I've been gay my whole life," and added that he doesn't have to show his gay-pride or break any laws in order to show people that he supports gay rights. He said that his sole presence in Sochi would be enough to show his support to gay people.
The former figure skater doesn't agree with a boycott to the international event because it would hurt all the athletes who have worked very hard and sacrificed so much to get there. He noted to Keith Olbermann last month: "before a gay man, before a white man, I am an Olympian."
Weir also said to Olbermann that his own hometown, New Jersey, didn't recognize gay marriage, and that this was a reason to oppose a boycott. After that interview, gay marriage was allowed in New Jersey, and Weir pointed out to the Time that "every country is going to have its issues."
NBC has made a good decision by adding Weir to its team of experts who will cover the Olympic Games. His knowledge and experience will make the broadcasts credible and relevant and audiences will understand the event from the perspective of a previous competitor.
Weir is making an admirable decision accepting this work assignment, which will require him to travel to Russia at a time where gay rights are highly controversial. His presence will be a strong message in support of equal rights.