A far better reason to boycott the Sochi Olympics is the atrocious human rights abuses taking place in Russia, highlighted by the recent passage of draconian anti-gay laws, including one that would imprison anyone who publicly supports LGBT people, and the astounding posthumous conviction of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistle-blower that Russian authorities tortured to death. The most recent London Olympics had a record number of openly LGB athletes (unfortunately, there were no openly trans athletes). Any openly LGB athletes in Sochi, however, would be violating Russian law and subject to torture and worse. True, the Russian authorities are likely to look the other way for the athletes, and possibly the tourists who are there for the games. I mean, as the Magnitsky conviction proved, the rule of law in Russia is a make-it-up-as-you-go-along situation. But why put any of our athletes and visitors at risk?
And those are just the glaring human rights abuses that took place in Russia in the past few weeks. Earlier this year, Russia had a massive crackdown on NGOs that receive foreign funding. Harassing them with a new legal ban, official audits, and pro-Putin youth groups that violently attacked their offices. The targets includes charity groups and human rights groups, many of which are now unable to perform their function at a time when they're needed more than ever. If Russia is that hostile to foreign money and perceived foreign agents, why send them any?
And for those who say politics and sports shouldn't mix, that is an absurd and craven notion. Politics is intrinsic to sports, especially the Olympics. The original and supposedly goal of the Olympics is to encourage world peace and harmony among the nations and their people. To use the games to bolster a regime whose policies and priorities are antithetical to peace and human dignity is a nauseating contradiction.
Senator Lindsey Graham, of course, is a despicable bidet of a man whose public positions and personal life have lots in common with Putin's Russia. That he would suggest a boycott of the Sochi games to crack down on a whistle blower (something Putin violently approves of when it comes to his own citizens) is hilarious irony on multiple levels.
Real talk, though, there will be no boycott of the games. Russia is now far too important a business and military partner to most countries, including the US, to directly antagonize by crapping on something their diminutive leader has set his little heart on. Graham knows this. His headline-grabbing bluster is designed to give himself political cover among the tea party xenophobes because he helped shepherd comprehensive immigration reform as part of the gang of eight. Yes, that vile man can do something sort of right, when the interests of him and his party are on the line. That he would follow it up by reverting to an evil rodeo clown is entirely expected.