…originally posted as a Facebook comment. Yeah. Edited a bit, paragraph break added.
I find the whole Olympic boycott business, while well-intentioned, pretty obnoxious. I do agree that it’s important for countries and their athletes to consider their safety in-country before going to any international sporting event, but the idea of boycotting just because we’re mad at Russia seems a little uninformed and silly. It doesn’t send Russia a “powerful signal,” because Russians already think (with a certain degree of truth and a certain degree of paranoia) that the West unjustifiably picks on them. Why not boycott Olympics in the U.S. over Guantanamo? Why didn’t we boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics? China’s got at least as many human rights problems as Russia, if not specifically against LGBT people.
Taking another tack, if you’re going to boycott, why not align with the Circassians, who have been protesting since Sochi was chosen that the Olympics are taking place on their ancestral land on the 150th anniversary of their genocidal expulsion from the Russian Empire, with zero acknowledgment from the Olympic organizers that Sochi is anything but an ethnically Russian city? Or with the Sochi residents who have had their homes demolished for the corruption-riddled Olympic construction projects? Finally, I’d argue that a boycott and international outcry against the Russian government are, in this case, unlikely to build significant pressure. The vast majority of Russians – over 80% – support this legislation, and popular support is a powerful thing.