Dear Editor: The Olympics are over.
There were some wonderful triumphs as well as some bitter disappointments.
We even had the privilege of watching one of our own — Kaetlyn Osmond — skate to silver along with her teammates.
Unfortunately, the students of Sir Wilfred Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, didn’t know anything about it. They had announced publicly that they would be ignoring the Olympics in protest of Russia’s LBGT policies — much like the ostrich with its head in the sand — convinced that not seeing the danger would eliminate the danger.
Imagine if the people of Marystown had done the same thing — had not come together in their hundreds to watch Kaetlyn skate. Imagine if the rest of Canada had done so — or had simply listened to the more strident voices and boycotted the games as Canada did the Russian Summer Olympics of 1980 — a gesture which accomplished nothing except destroy the hope and betray the trust of those athletes who had won the right to go.
What message would such actions send — not just to the Olympians — but to the thousands of athletes who tried for the Olympic team but came up short?
As a nation we encourage them to get involved with competitive sports from the local to the Olympic level — that we encourage you to spend the thousands of hours and large sums of money that are required to compete — but that — when the time comes for you to go to the Olympics, we (as a nation) may or may not be there for you.
It all depends on whether or not (at that particular moment) we like the politics of the country hosting the Games.
If that’s the case, then we should have stayed away from the 2008 summer Olympics in China — a country which has yet to meet a human right which it has not abused.
Such an approach would be totally unacceptable. If we are to encourage our youth to become involved with competitive sports — especially on the world stage — then we have to support them even when we find the politics of the host country distasteful.
They have to have the confidence that their country’s support for them is an unqualified one.
They have to know that — while others may play politics with the Olympics — we still hold to the ideal established by Pierre de Fredy — the founder of the modern Olympics in 1896 — that the Olympics will be one place where the youth of the world can meet in peace rather than their usual place — on the battlefield.
In the meantime, let us not forget Jesse Owens, the African-American runner who won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
If there had been a boycott of those Games, he would not have had the chance to prove to the world and to a certain Adolf Hitler that a black man can be as good as a white man — and that (on some days) a damn sight better.
As for Sochi, the openly gay athletes who won medals at these Olympics have done more for the cause of LBGT rights in Russia than ignoring the Olympics will ever achieve.
Llew Hounsell, Corner Brook