Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, who is openly gay, is against a boycott of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The games take place next February in a country that this year enacted a law that provides for the arrest and prosecution of people who promote homosexuality.
The International Olympic Committee has vowed that gay athletes and gay tourists will not be discriminated against during the games.
However, Russia is enforcing the law and recently arrested four vacationers. There also have been numerous reports of anti-gay attacks in the country.
Weir, a three-time U.S. men’s figure skating champion who competed in the 2006 Winter games in Torino, Italy, and in the 2010 games in Vancouver, Canada, wrote a column for the Falls Church News-Press.
In it, the athlete said, “The fact that Russia is arresting my people, and openly hating a minority and violating human rights all over the place is heartbreaking and a travesty of international proportions. …I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof.”
He also wrote, “I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world.… Olympics are history, and they do not represent their host, they represent the world entire. People make their own futures, and should a government or sponsor steal that future, whether it be a Russian government or American government, it is, as an athlete, the death and total demolition of a lifetime of work. Support the athletes.”
Weir said that, if he qualifies, he intends to compete in Russia.
“There isn’t a police officer or a government that, should I qualify, could keep me from competing at the Olympics.”