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Posts Tagged ‘International Olympic Committee’

Stoli Vodka to LGBT Protestors: ‘We’re Not Really Russian, OK?’

Vladimir Putin hasn’t won too many friends in the Western world with his new anti-gay crusade. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sotchi will probably be just fine, and the International Olympic Committee is crossing its fingers and hoping that nobody raises too big a stink.

But all this negative coverage is bad PR for some classic Russian brands, especially Stolichnaya Vodka. But Stoli’s not really Russian, and now the brand is scrambling to downplay the connection.

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Paralympics Committee Bans Swimmer Who Isn’t Quite Paralyzed Enough

As we inch closer to the next Olympic Games, related organizations have had a bit of trouble presenting a positive face to the public. Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee responded to global uproar over Russia’s strict anti-gay laws by suggesting that gay athletes and supporters try to tone it down a bit while visiting the Motherland for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Now the International Paralympics Committee has earned a bit of bad press for deciding to ban swimmer Victoria Arlen from competing in future events, most importantly the Paralympic World Swimming Championships in Montreal.

Their point? There’s an infinitesimal chance that Arlen, who lost the use of her legs in 2006 thanks to a rare viral disease that paralyzed her from the waist down and left her in a coma for nearly two years, might walk again some day. Her coach says that her doctors call it “a sliver of hope”—and that’s apparently enough for the committee to remove her from the competition.

The swimmer and her fans are not happy:

Some other facts about Ms. Arlen:

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International Olympic Committee Hopes Gay People Will Stop Being So Gay

Last night our own Tonya Garcia reported on some Olympics-sized jitters over at NBC. Seems the official home of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games is a little wary of host country Russia’s decision to pass some of the world’s most archaically homophobic laws, which promise to arrest anyone who dares discuss “non-traditional sexual relationships” with minors or even bothers to act “openly gay” at the games. Yes, that means athletes too…

NBC spokespeople claim that no advertisers currently plan to boycott the games due to this unfortunate development, but the story doesn’t end there.

You’d think the International Olympic Committee’s thinking would be more in line with the 21st Century; we’re sad to say that’s not the case.

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The IOC, Stoli Vodka and NBC Respond to Boycotts/Petitions Stemming from Russian Anti-Gay Laws

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that bans ”propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and threatens openly gay or “pro-gay” citizens and foreigners with fines, arrests and possible jail time. Another new law restricts adoptions of Russian children by people in countries that allow same-sex marriage.

With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to take place in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it has received assurances ”from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.” It pledged to ensure there would be no discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators or the media during the games.

Many equal-rights activists are unimpressed with the IOC’s response, and feel that whether or not the laws directly affect the games is far from the point. ”They should be advocating for the safety of all LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in Russia, not simply those visiting for the Olympics,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. ”Rescinding this heinous law must be our collective goal.”

In order to make their voices heard, activists have been writing petitions and staging boycotts.

The “Dump Russian Vodka” campaign, started by internationally syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, has prompted bars across the US, UK, Canada and Australia to stop serving Russian brands like Stolichnaya. In response, Stolichnaya’s CEO Val Mendeleev wrote an open letter last week condemning the recent laws and reaffirming the brand’s commitment to the LGBT community. The brand’s website has also undergone an overhaul, and now features a rainbow block of text boasting that the brand “stands strong and proud with the global LGBT community against the attitude and actions of the Russian government.” (We’d call this a winning damage control response) Read more