The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Debate: should U.S. athletes have competed?

Around this time, the news is typically filled with countless profiles of Olympic Athletes who are excited to represent the United States and fight for the gold. This year is different, however. For the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, attention has been shifted from getting to know the athletes to evaluating terrorist threats and anti-gay legislation.

With the increasing threat of terrorism and hostility towards homosexuals, the U.S. should have  boycotted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in order to protect American athletes and spectators.

Sochi is located adjacent to Russia’s Northern Caucuses – areas known for brutal uprisings and centers of anti-Russian terrorism. One of these nations includes Chechnya, a heavily militarized extremist Islamic state with ties to Al-Qaeda. Chechen rebels have released multiple videos calling on fellow Jihadists to help stop the Olympics, according to Jan. 25 New York Daily News article.

These calls have not gone unanswered; in December two suicide bombers attacked the city of Volgograd – a city neighboring Sochi – killing a total of 34 people. Volgograd is a primary transit point for tourists who are traveling to the games.

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According to the article, the Vilayat Dagestan, an Islamic militant group, claimed responsibility for the attacks and promised more to come for all tourists attending the Olympics.

Even though Russia has taken multiple preventative security measures, their history when dealing with terrorists has had catastrophic results.

In 2002, when terrorists took hostages in a Moscow Theater, Russian forces reacted by filling the theater with poison gas which killed 129 hostages. In 2004, Chechen rebels seized a Beslan elementary school and held the students and teachers hostage. Russian forces responded by storming the school and killing 334 hostages, including hundreds of children.

Aside from the threats of terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “anti-propaganda” laws puts homosexual athletes at risk.

According to a Feb. 3 article, the “anti-propaganda” laws aims to prohibit any discussion of LGBT issues in front of minors. These laws equate gays with pedophiles and forbid the adoption of Russian children by gay couples or by any couples living in a country that permits same-sex marriage.

As a result, any pro-gay act or statement on television would violate these laws and could result in arrest; these laws apply to Russian citizens as well as international tourists, according to the article.

According to a 2014 ABCNews article, homosexual Olympic athletes will not be prosecuted during the games, but any kind of pro-gay demonstration on Olympic sites is illegal.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also limited athletes ability to protest in favor of gay rights.

According to a Feb. 3 article, the IOC charter states that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda” is allowed to take place on any Olympic sites.

As a result of Russian culture, these athletes will be targeted because of their sexual orientation. While they are promised security from the “anti-propaganda” laws, they are forced to enter a world where they are deemed pedophiles and sex offenders.

By participating in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the United States is exposing its athletes to threats of terrorism and discrimination. While participating in the Olympics is a strong part of the American tradition, it’s not worth endangering the lives of our athletes or condoning the policies of a country whose values are far from our own.

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Debate: should U.S. athletes have competed?