While the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi may have come to a close, Russia’s Open Games for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes have suffered organizational setbacks in securing housing and sports venues. From The Moscow Times:
Days after the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, Russia’s first Open Games for LGBT athletes have been jeopardized by what organizers say is a crackdown that highlights the Russian government’s harsh stance on homosexuality.
Organizers of the Russian Open Games — an athletic festival fashioned after the Olympics but intended for the LGBT community — are scrambling to find alternative venues and relocate participants after authorities pressured venues and accommodation facilities into refusing to host events and house participants.
The news comes shortly after the International Olympic Committee’s praise of the Sochi Olympics seemed to defuse earlier criticism of new “anti-gay” legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin last June. The law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors” sparked international outrage and prompted calls for an Olympic boycott in the run-up to the Sochi Games, with rights activists warning that Russia was creating a dangerous, intolerant atmosphere for gays.
“One day before the opening ceremony of the Games, almost all the venues where we had planned to hold events refused to host us for various reasons,” Viktor Romanov, one of the organizers, said in a telephone interview. “I think the authorities are behind this because we can see that lots of resources are being put into trying to prevent the Open Games from taking place.”
Two owners of a hostel in downtown Moscow, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, said police threatened them with closure if participants of the Open Games were found in their establishment.
“Two police officers came to our hostel and told us that if any participants of the Games were found in our hostel, we would have problems,” one of the owners said. “They said they would run all kinds of administrative checks on us and close us down.”