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2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia

Position Statement

OUTSPORT TORONTO believes that, through the Olympic Games, athletes, coaches, officials, judges and organisers have enormous influence over our hearts and minds, and are role models to the world.

OUTSPORT TORONTO encourages all those involved in the Olympics - including the year’s host, the Russian Federation - to honour the Olympic Charter by using their collective powers and influence to oppose discrimination, hatred, and violence against all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.


OUTSPORT TORONTO believes that through sport, we can build a better world by fostering inclusivity and diversity, and celebrating unity.

In high-performance games such as the Olympics, participants’ elite-athlete status gives them powerful influence over our hearts and minds.  Without a doubt, athletes, coaches, officials, judges, and organisers serve as role models to the world.

OUTSPORT TORONTO encourages Olympians, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International Sports Federations (IFs), this year’s host the Russian Federation and all others involved in the Olympic Games to celebrate and respect the uniqueness and diversity amongst us all.  We call upon them to honour the Olympic Charter by using their collective powers and influence to oppose discrimination, hatred, and violence against all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.

Question & Answer

Does OUTSPORT TORONTO support a boycott?

No.  If we boycott and do not show up and participate, we lose the opportunity to promote inclusivity.  We see the upcoming Winter Olympics as an opportunity for all participants - athletes, coaches, officials, judges, organisers, and the public to demonstrate the spirit of the Olympic charter - to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.  Any form of discrimination - including towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community - is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

Supporting Material: Olympic Charter

OUTSPORT TORONTO supports the Fundamental Principles of Olympism as articulated in the Olympic Charter, and in particular, principle 2, which states, “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” [1] and principle 6, which states, “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” [2]

Other relevant portions of the charter include:

  1. “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised in accordance with Olympism and its values.” [3]
  2. “Any person or organisation belonging in any capacity whatsoever to the Olympic Movement is bound by the provisions of the Olympic Charter and shall abide by the decisions of the IOC.” [4]
  3. “The IOC’s role is… to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes.” [5]
  4. “The IOC’s role is… to encourage and support the development of sport for all.” [6]
  5. The responsibilities of a National Olympic Committee (NOC) to “develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their respective countries, in accordance with the Olympic Charter” [7] and “to ensure the observance of the Olympic Charter in their countries.” [8]
  6. “Apart from the measures and sanctions provided in the case of infringement of the Olympic Charter, the IOC Executive Board may take any appropriate decisions for the protection of the Olympic Movement in the country of an NOC, including suspension of or withdrawal of recognition from such NOC if the constitution, law or other regulations in force in the country concerned, or any act by any governmental or other body causes the activity of the NOC or the making or expression of its will to be hampered. The IOC Executive Board shall offer such NOC an opportunity to be heard before any such decision is taken.” [9]
  7. The ability for the IOC to completely withdraw the games from a host with no liability to the IOC for non-compliance with the Olympic Charter.[10]
  8. The ability for the IOC to suspend a NOC and its athletes for violations.[11]

Given these excerpts, and the history of the Olympic Movement itself, it is clear that the Olympics are, and are meant to be, much more than simply an apolitical sporting event with no perspective on or influence over external matters.  For example:

a)      The IOC moved the 1920 Games from Budapest to Antwerp, in recognition of Hungary’s allegiance to Germany in World War I, and Germany was not invited to those games.

b)      Germany was not invited again in 1924.

c)       Germany and Japan were suspended from the 1948 Games.

d)      South Africa was suspended in 1964 for its apartheid policies, with the suspension lasting until 1992.

e)      Rhodesia was banned from participating in the 1972 Summer Games as the result of a 36 to 31 vote by the IOC held four days before the opening ceremonies.   African countries had threatened to boycott the Munich games had the white minority ruled regime been permitted to send a team.

It is clear that the IOC has exercised its powers in the past in the face of political and human-rights conflicts, and has recognised itself as having political influence.


[1] Olympic Charter as in force from 9 September 2013, Fundamental Principles of Olympism, page 11.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, Chapter 1, The Olympic Movement, Section1, Composition and General Organisation of the Olympic Movement, Rule 1, page 15.

[4] Ibid, Rule 4, page 16.

[5] Ibid, Rule 2, Mission and Role of the IOC, Point 10, page 17.

[6] Ibid, Point 12, page 17.

[7] Ibid, Chapter 4, The National Olympic Committees (NOCs), Rule 27, Mission and Role of the NOCs, Point 1, page 57.

[8] Ibid, Point 2.2, page 57.

[9] Ibid, Point 9, page 59.

[10] Ibid, Chapter 5, The Olympic Games, Rule 36, Liabilities – Withdrawal of the organisation of the Olympic Games, page 72.

[11] Ibid, Chapter 6, Measures and Sanctions, Disciplinary Procedures and Dispute Resolution, Rule 59 Measures and Sanctions, Point 1.4, page 102.