THE head of Great Britain’s Winter Olympics team has emphatically argued against any suggestions of boycotting next year’s Games in Sochi.
Gay rights activists, a US senator and the celebrity Stephen Fry have all raised objections to recent laws passed by the Russian government, which make promoting and providing information about homosexuality to under-18s illegal, and have called for the Games to be moved or boycotted. However, the Team GB chef de mission Mike Hay said yesterday: “We are not considering a boycott. We are better off being there. Why should the athletes be penalised?
“We have proved in the past, when the government advised us not to go to the 1980 Games in Moscow after Russia invaded Afghanistan, and we politely reminded them that the British Olympic Association is a non-political organisation. Our current chairman is Lord Coe, who went to Moscow in 1980 and was very strong in his view that athletes had trained for a lifetime to go.
“We have competed in places with similar issues. Beijing springs to mind.”
Hay was speaking at Braehead Arena in Glasgow where Eve Muirhead’s women’s world champion Scottish curling rink, also comprising Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams and Anna Sloan, were unveiled as the first officially confirmed members of Team GB. Hay, a two-time former world curling silver medallist and coach of the women’s 2002 Olympic gold medal -winning rink, added: “Things can change, there are security issues and things might escalate in Syria. But we are in close contact with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. It will be the decision of our chairman and the board – but I am pretty confident we are going to the Games.”
Curling skip Muirhead said: “I don’t know enough about the issue. We are four athletes who are just going out there to do our job – curl on the ice.”