The decision to include sexual orientation under the U.S Olympic Committees’ Anti-Discrimination rules comes months ahead of the 2014 winter Olympics in Russia. Russia recently implemented laws targeting the LGBT community, according to NPR.
Russia has been under scrutiny by the international community ever since President Vladimir Putin signed the anti-gay law back in June of 2013. In Russia there have been many protest and riots in response to these laws. There has also been an increase in violence in which members of the LBGT community were specifically targeted.
The Board adopted the rule after chairman, Larry Probst said he would support adding sexual orientation to the International Olympic Committees’ policies, according to NPR. Probst retorted by saying that a boycott of the Sochi Olympics is not an option according to LGBT Nation.
“Such an amendment is one of the few avenues available to the USOC as it tries to send a message to Russia,” Pobst said.
This change does not mean the USOC is committed to changing Russian policy, however they are concerned with ensuring a safe and successful Olympics.
“We (the USOC) want to lead by example and advocate internally to make sure we, as a family, are sending the message that we don’t tolerate discrimination,” CEO of the USOC Scot Blackmun said.
Many U.S. athletes are also voicing their opinion on the Russian anti-Gay laws and the USOC’s decision to protect sexual orientation under their Anti-Discrimination rules.
One such athlete Bode Miller of the U.S. ski team called Russia’s anti-gay law “absolutely embarrassing,” according to LGBT Nation
Many athletes have mentioned walking with Rainbow Flag (a symbol of the LBGT movement) as a sign of support for the LBGT community and all LBGT around the world.
The USOC is not discouraging athletes from voicing their opinions but is reminding them that political protest by an athlete during the Olympics is a violation of Olympic charter.