Australia reassured on gay, security issues for Sochi
Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission, reassured Australia’s Olympic team that Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised that gay athletes will be welcome at the Winter Games in Sochi.
Western countries have criticized the Russian law banning homosexual “propaganda” among minors, and gay rights groups have called for a boycott of the Games.
Even though President Putin has assured everyone that they would feel comfortable in Sochi, a possible terror attack by Chechen or other Islamist militants still threaten the safety of the Games.
Chesterman, who just returned from an inspection visit to the Black Sea resort, declared: “we are very comfortable with both situations and particularly the gay rights issue.” He also claimed that the reassurances from leading Russian officials and the President are reason enough for the athletes to feel relaxed and confident.
According to Chesterman, Australia’s winter squad will make their bases in Sochi alcohol-free zones in order to create the best environment for performance.
The Australian team is hopping to be more successful at the Sochi Winter Games. Chesterman is planning to increase the number of athletes participating at these Games in order to have the chance to win more medals.
Ian Chesterman’s perception about the organization of the Olympic Games is positive. He seems to believe that the Games will be held in an atmosphere of friendly competition based on what he heard from Russian officials.
Chesterman’s main concern is about the Australian team’s success, not necessarily about their safety when it comes to the anti-gay laws in Russia.
Let’s remember that most Russian people doesn’t support gay rights, and that many incidents have occurred throughout the organization of the Games. Many people feel very uncomfortable about the anti-gay laws.
I am surprised that the Australian coach feels comfortable about the human rights issues as well as the safety issues. The article doesn’t say if Chesterman plans to force his athletes to follow Russia’s anti-gay laws. I wonder how Chesterman will react if one of his athletes decides to defy the laws. I also wonder if the athletes think Chesterman should have questioned the Russian officials instead of just accepting their statement about safety.
I noticed this article only dedicated a few paragraphs to the safety and human rights concerns issues. Most of the second half of the article was about the number of Australian athletes going to the Games this year compared to other years. It appears Chesterman steered the interview to focus attention away from the more controversial topics about the winter games.