THE HYPOCRISY OF THE IOC WILL PROVE TOXIC TO CORPORATE SPONSORS
Within six months, our global community will see the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games. However, the 2014 Sochi Olympics is fast becoming toxic to sponsors now that the IOC is moving forward with punishing the LGBT athletes who compete at the 2014 Sochi Games and publicly stand up against the anti-gay laws in Russia.
The IOC is developing a reputation of hypocrisy between the I.O.C.’s explicit vision of the world leader (as highlighted in the rules and guidelines of its charter) and the fact that the IOC has been responsible for awarding the Olympic games to two countries with unfathomable human rights violations: the 2008 summer games in Beijing and now with the upcoming 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia.
Historically, each Olympic host country signs an agreement with the IOC which includes upholding the I.O.C.’s “Fundamental Principles of Olympism”: respect for human dignity and press freedom, and a rejection of “any form of discrimination.”
In fairness to the IOC, the Russian Federation sprung, at the last minute, a set of “anti-gay” laws that forbid the adoption of children to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered (LGBT) families and the countries that have pro-gay laws. They also passed a law disallowing LGBT public events and any pro-gay information to people under the age of 18 years.
If that wasn’t enough, Russia has now expanded their human rights violations to include abuses towards workers on construction projects at Olympic sites and harassing human rights groups that monitor them.
It is clear that these actions are in violation of the IOC Olympism and the IOC does little more that just damage control through strongly worded statements and press releases.
Demonstrations are almost certain and did the IOC think about the innocent bystanders (Olympic attendees) who will be caught in the crossfire? Their strategy places undue harm towards anyone who either attends the events and the LGBT community that will be in harms way. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has stated "An athlete of nontraditional sexual orientation isn't banned from coming to Sochi…But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable."
What is worse is that the IOC expects all athletes to follow Rule 50 of the Olympism which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.
Russia, thus far, has been (by inaction on the part of the IOC) exempt from their violation of the IOC hosting agreement with regards to respect for human dignity and press freedom, and a rejection of “any form of discrimination. "
There exists a core of global corporations, such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola, that have been the pillar of sponsorship for the Olympics. In fact, Coca-Cola prides itself on having been aligned with the Olympics since 1928 which includes the 1936 Summer Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany. These corporate sponsors have been, almost verbatim, following in step with the IOC as it maneuvers through the public relations maze to ensure the games continue as planned.
Yes, these are organizations that do not condone discrimination; Yes, they acknowledge that they do not condone the anti-gay laws, and that they think they contradict the Olympic charter but these are just “bullet points” for their public relations and communications staff to read. There has been, to date, no action by any major sponsors part to curtail their giving or participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
These companies have heavy investment in Russia and do not want to jeopardize Russia as a key revenue source. As the situation grows more toxic, sponsors may have to think twice as their consumers grow leery of corporate rhetoric while the lives and safety of people are in harms way.