TORONTO, September 3, 2013 ( – In a new poll of Canadians by Forum Research, the majority (58%) disagree that Canada should boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics, while less that one third agree with such an action (32%). One tenth (10%) had no opinion on the issue. 

However, a slightly smaller majority (56%) also think Canadian athletes at Sochi should be allowed to show their support for homosexuality by wearing rainbow pins or carrying rainbow flags, an activity forbidden by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

The IOC's charter specifically prohibits demonstrations or political propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas. (Bylaw to Rule 50.) 

“Any violation of the provisions of the present clause may result in disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned. The decisions of the IOC Executive Board regarding this matter shall be final,” the regulation states. 


The Forum Research poll shows that Canadians are in line with people of other countries that believe their athletes should be able to compete without politicizing the games. 

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A poll in the US found that about the same percentage of Americans as Canadians (58%) disagree with a boycott. Only about 22% of Americans, compared to 32% of Canadians, think their Olympic team should boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics. 

The US poll also asked how Russia's law against homosexual propaganda would affect plans to attend the 2014 Olympics or to watch on television. 

Eighty-one percent of respondents said the law makes no difference to their plans to travel to Sochi, while almost 70% said it makes no difference to their intention to watch the games on TV. 

The head of Great Britain's Olympic mission for Sochi, Mike Hay, said that his team is ignoring the calls for a boycott. 

“We are better off being there. Why should we penalise the athletes?” Hay told The Guardian.  

“The British Olympic Association is a non-political organisation as we have proved in the past. Even when the government advised us not to, we went to the boycotted Games of 1980 in Moscow when Russia invaded Afghanistan. 

“And our chairman just happens to be Lord Coe, who was very strong in the fact that athletes had trained for a lifetime to go,” Hay added. 

“Of course, the athletes will have the option: it is up to them to compete or not. But I think we have to give a loud, clear message to athletes that the British Olympic Association will be going to Sochi,” Hay said. 

Homosexuality itself is not illegal or prosecuted in Russia. However the Russian government recently voted, 436 to 0, to ban homosexual propagandizing by foreign or domestic activists. 

The new law prohibits the promotion of homosexuality, and other deviant sexual behaviors, among minors by making it illegal to give children “information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual behavior among children, suggesting this behavior is attractive, and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships.” 

The legislation effectively outlaws “gay pride” festivals and stops attempts by foreign homosexualist activist groups to normalize their lifestyles or campaign for same-sex legal recognition in Russia. 

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin defended the bill, saying that while it is “necessary to defend the rights of sexual minorities,” Russian public opinion must also be respected. A state-sponsored poll found that 88 percent of Russians agree with the homosexual propaganda ban. 

The full text of the Forum Research poll of Canadians on the Olympic boycott is available here


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