#2. There Is Absolutely No Point
But if people just cannot stop boycotting the games, it must be effective, right? Wrong. As far as I can tell, no real policy change has ever been enacted due to boycotting or threatening to boycott the Olympics. No host country has ever broken down and seen the error of its ways just because some foreigners refused to show up and beat them at sports.
For example, if we had followed through on our threats not to go to Beijing in 2008, would China have changed a single thing about their approach to human rights, or would the iPad you're reading this on still be soaked in the blood of virtual slave labor?
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You do not get percussion synchronicity like that from a laissez-faire government.
Even though the Irish invented boycotting the Olympics, they didn't achieve any sort of home rule for another 14 years. Hitler still went on to be Hitler, regardless of the fact that Jewish athletes boycotted the 1936 Berlin Games. Even when 62 countries boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Russia, it had little to no effect on Cold War policies. Anita DeFrantz, who would have been on the women's rowing team had we gone to Moscow, was interviewed in 1996 and said:
"It was a pointless exercise and a shameful part of U.S. history. I asked one of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, whom they had called on to talk to us athletes, if he could tell me truthfully whether it would save one life -- and he couldn't."
In other words, even the people who decided on the boycott for political reasons didn't think it was going to make even the tiniest difference in either safety or policy in the USSR. Then the communist countries just turned around and boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in tit-for-tat tantrums that did nothing but make everyone involved look like children.
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Freakishly strong children.
The Soviet Union didn't dissolve until the end of 1991, 11 years after the biggest boycott in Olympics history. If the games had any effect on the collapse of the USSR, no one in the U.S. or Russian government ever said anything about it.
#1. It's Much More Effective to Be Passive-Aggressive
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By boycotting, countries send a message that there are two sides to a serious political issue. If anything, you legitimize your opponent's opinion by acknowledging that it is the opposite of yours. When the West boycotted the 1980 Olympics, all we succeeded in doing was driving the wedge deeper between democratic countries and communist countries and making almost every country in the world actively pick a side. In Sochi's case, had America chosen to boycott, they would have been forcing the countries that showed up to implicitly state that they were OK with oppressing gay people, while any country that didn't want to send that message would have no choice but to not attend. Suddenly the world would be divided along rainbow flag lines.
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The equator is still in the closet.
That's why attending is the best thing we could possibly do. By showing up and poking fun at the host country, we prove that there is only one correct side to this argument, and those of us on the right side of history are going to spend the next two weeks making anti-gay Russia look like a whiny kid who is afraid of cooties.
It started when President Obama, who attended the London Olympics two years ago along with the first lady, announced that he wouldn't be going to Sochi. And just in case that wasn't an obvious enough snub, the American delegation he handpicked to go in his place was made up of two openly gay athletes (Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow) and figure skater Brian Boitano. But within days of being appointed, Boitano announced that he too was gay. Despite keeping his private life private for 50 years, he came out to the world just so there was no doubt that the entire U.S. Olympic delegation was gay, and it was absolutely done on purpose. It's hard to imagine how someone could give a larger middle finger to homophobia. It's also hard to imagine Russia having the balls to arrest the American delegation, meaning they can show up and say pretty much whatever they want to about gay rights.
Then the Germans premiered their Olympic athlete outfits. Since these uniforms are always terrible, no one was expecting much. What they weren't expecting, though, was a gay pride flag.
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Despite not including a purple strip, Twitter and most news organizations immediately jumped on the look as another snub to anti-gay Russia. The designer denied that it was meant to be a symbol of support for the gay community, but it's important to note that he had to say that; admitting it outright would make it a political symbol, which is specifically not allowed in the Olympics. And regardless of what the original intention was, everyone now sees the uniforms as supporting gay rights.
And it doesn't stop there. Officials are already encouraging people to sneak pro-gay banners into stadiums, a Russian athlete who won't even be competing in the Olympics had to apologize for freaking out about a competitor's rainbow nail polish, and countries are openly donating money to Russian gay rights campaigners. Had we stayed at home, all we could do is get angry while Russia won a lot of medals. By attending, we can make the games a fuck-you to discrimination.
Plus, have you seen the thighs on those bobsledders?
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