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WA congressman calls for Olympics boycott; Dave Ross wants to poll Olympians

Russian vodka and the Winter Olympics in Sochi are the prime targets as gays in the United States and elsewhere propose boycotts and other tactics to convey their outrage over Russia's intensifying campaign against gay-rights activism. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A Washington state representative has joined in on the call for the United States to boycott the next Olympics in Russia.

Congressman Adam Smith, (D-WA 9th District,) is the latest to say the president shouldn’t meet one on one with Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G20 Summit and not just because of the Snowden incident, but because Russia has been enforcing anti-gay laws, including arresting suspected gay people.

Under this edict signed by Putin, gay athletes and fans will be prohibited from displays of affection, and could also get in trouble for wearing rainbow pins and badges. There are fines and jail time, and foreigners would face deportation.

Smith said there needs to be assurances about how athletes are treated during the Olympics.

According to Smith, we should boycott “if we don’t see some evidence that Russia is going to stop their crackdown on openly gay people. You have scenes where people out there protesting the laws against gays and lesbians, who are then beat up by other people, and they arrest the protesters.”

It could be a serious problem for the Olympics, Smith told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz. “We have not yet received the assurances that are going to be necessary to make the Olympics possible. Putin needs to get out in front on that and make it clear that gay athletes will not be discriminated against or harassed during the Olympics.”

Smith is worried a situation could arise where gay athletes, not just from the U.S., but any country, show up in Russia to compete but instead face arrest. Which means the international community should be asking for assurance of even more change in Russia, not just for the Olympics.

But KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross thinks we need to poll the Olympic athletes themselves before pulling out. Nothing would embarrass the bigots in Russia like having a bunch of gay athletes winning medals. Dave calls it a “Jesse Owens moment.”

New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, who is openly gay, has already pledged to wear a rainbow pin during the games. That could be interesting, because if the authorities are going to arrest him, they will have to catch him first.

A report by KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and’s Alyssa Kleven

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