WASHINGTON, D.C., October 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – U.S. athletes who want to participate in the Olympics must now take a vow that they will not engage in “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the committee changed the rules last week “to address the legislation in Russia prohibiting advocacy of non- traditional relationships among minors,” its anti-gay propaganda law.
Last Friday, the U.S. Olympic Committee( USOC) announced it had altered the “Commitment to Integrity” portion of the code to read:
The USOC is committed to honesty and integrity as the cornerstone of our activities. In turn, the USOC expects you to conduct yourself in an ethical and legal manner as a representative of the USOC. This requires you to:
* Respect the rights of all individuals to fair treatment and equal opportunity, free from discrimination or harassment of any type, including, without limitation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or otherwise.
The change was made amidst controversy over the upcoming 2014 Winter Games to be held in Sochi, Russia. Many gay activists have called for a boycott of the games because of Russia’s policy forbidding the exposure of children to pro-homosexual propaganda.
The Olympic Committee has no plans to boycott and has repeatedly stated it is not their place to try to influence foreign policy.
But Blackmun said, “Even though we have been assured by the IOC that the new law will not directly impact anybody in Russia for the Games, it is important for us to emphasize that we believe the law is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the Olympic and Paralympic movements. To bring that point home, yesterday, our board voted to amend the USOC’s code of conduct to include specific mention of sexual orientation in our own non-discrimination policy.”
“The fact that we do not think it is our role to advocate for a change in the Russian law does not mean that we support the law, and we do not,” Blackmun added.
While Rule 50 of the International Olympic Charter (IOC) bans “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” from “any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” Blackmun said the USOC will stand behind athletes who speak against the Russian law prior to their arrival at the games.
He singled out comments made by runner Nick Symmonds and skier Bode Miller as “good examples” of the kind of speech the USOC supports.
Miller said of Russia, “I think it's absolutely embarrassing that there's countries and there's people who are that intolerant and that ignorant.”
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In an interview with Runner’s World, Symmonds said he would “dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home” and “then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union.”
But some people wonder who will stand up for the rights of Christians athletes.
Steve McConkey, a Christian pastor who ministers to top track and field athletes, says he worries that the new USOC rules may set the stage for discrimination against those whose religious beliefs oppose homosexuality and other non-traditional sexual orientations.
“The policies are set-up for discrimination against gay athletes, but there could be reverse discrimination in the future,” McConkey said in a said, adding that it “is a matter of time” before traditional morality is discriminated against by “the law of the land.”
McConkey said he found it disturbing that the Olympic Committee took no similar action in 2008, when the games were held in Beijing, where Christians are jailed or even executed for their beliefs.
“The IOC allowed the Olympic Games to be in China in 2008 while hundreds were in prison for being Christian and the country has 100 million underground Christians,” McConkey said. “They did not speak up about this, but now a sin category is added to non-discrimination policies.”
McConkey summed up the difference in public reaction to the two host nations in one word: “Hypocrisy.”