From Russia, without love: Why the Olympics have always been political

The Olympics have been and always will be a platform for political ideologies.

With the Olympics in full swing, it would take a blind mole to miss the obvious: the games are more than just a stage for countries to show off their best athletes, they have become the main stage to tout political and social ideologies.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin passed a law banning all “gay propaganda” to minors, which highlights the injustices that continue to plague this planet.

The law bans the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations. Even insisting that traditional and non-traditional sexual relations are equal, can get you thrown in jail.

The role of politics in the Olympics is no new trend, dating back to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, several record-breaking Jewish athletes were banned from participating in events due to their religious beliefs.

Then in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos raised their fists in support of the black power movement. Not only were they vilified by media, they were removed from the Olympic team and even received death threats.

It was the 1980 Olympics in Moscow that solidified the event as a political platform rather than a sporting event. When the United States and 64 other countries boycotted the Russian Olympics due to its occupation of Afghanistan, they showed that the power of politics outweighs the spirit of the games.

History has a way of serendipitously repeating itself, time and time again.

Unlike the Moscow Olympics, President Obama did not boycott the 2014 games but personally decided not to attend. He instead sent openly gay tennis player Billie Jean King, figure skater Brian Boitano and ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow.

This passive aggressive move showed nothing but cowardice in addressing the civil rights injustices.

At this year’s games, protesters have been beaten and arrested for attempting to show pride in their sexual orientation. One man was even tackled by security personnel for waving a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch relay, and last week a gay rights activist said she was detained for wearing a rainbow scarf that read “Gay is OK.”

While protests at the XXII Winter Olympics have been minimal, even from the athletes, it doesn’t derail from the fact that the national event brings up current controversial topics that are looming throughout the nation.

However, as time progresses so do the political ideas that have caused such uproar in the past.

Soon issues surrounding sexual orientation will be something we look back on, as ancient history and another issue will arise that is showcased at the Olympics, continuing the history that the event is more about politics than sports. If this idea is not palpable, don’t participate in the political festival we call the Olympics.