With the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics hours away, I’ve been thinking about the controversy that has surrounded this year’s games.
My awareness of this situation, how it is viewed and has been discussed around the world, comes down to conflicting stances. Namely not wanting to support Russia’s legislated hate and inequality, while knowing that by taking part, each and every country is trying to focus on the sporting reasons why they are competing.
This is admirable and important for the competitors as they have trained and honed their craft for years, lifetimes even, to be the best that they can be. For many it’s a dream come true to be able to compete is this world event and the pinnacle of sporting achievement. The representation of governments and heads of state at the opening ceremony is where the international politics will play out. To attend would be akin to saying ‘we agree’ with the anti-gay propaganda laws and ridiculous statements about there being no gay people in Sochi.
As a consumer I feel like I have a connection with the brands that sponsor the Olympics and that we should adopt a critical eye when assessing how they have addressed these issues (or not).
It would be easiest to make your views heard by boycotting the use of products from sponsors such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola on a daily basis, though I suspect most will continue to do so. It is much harder and less of a statement to boycott many of the other sponsors, such as Visa and Samsung as we are either already using them or cannot avoid them. Making a stand is more than saying one thing, it’s a commitment and one where we are unlikely to see an obvious result in. The larger problem is that while equality is an important topic worldwide, it’s not something that every individual cares about. I’d hope that there was a majority who would vote for fairness, but in truth they might not care enough to.
I could be all high and mighty, declaring that not a can of sprite or cheeseburger will pass my lips, but I don’t eat or drink them anyway, so on a personal level I’d change nothing. It’s easy to be a champagne boycotter when you don’t drink champagne. However, what I will be doing is writing to my MP, signing petitions, and will actively avoid the Olympics on television. This is important, and by refusing to let the Olympics into my life, I am refusing to let the underpinning ideology in as well.
Find any way you can to tell people that you don’t support Sochi 2014 and that Russia’s record on inequality is unacceptable. Don’t brush it aside as someone else’s battle. Don’t be lazy just because it’s easy. Change only comes from each and every individual. What will you do?