Sochi: Olympic-Sized Hypocrisy

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All of this got me thinking: if not Sochi, then where? I would suggest a city in Switzerland, but the country famous for its neutrality has yet to legalize marriage equality and joint adoption for same-sex couples. How about New Zealand, which recently joined the ranks of nations approving marriage for all? Seems like a great choice until you learn that the United States Department of State has criticized the country for the social status of its indigenous population. I got it: Sweden. Come on, Sweden must do everything by the book. Not quite. According to Amnesty International, the Human Rights Coalition has cited the nation’s issues with the ethical treatment of prisoners and immigration detainees. Okay, one more shot at this: Give it up for Denmark. No country better represents the spirit of the Olympics more than this bastion of freedom and tolerance. Well, as long as you don’t include its ban on gay men donating blood.

You get the point. There is no perfect site for the games, although some are certainly more worthy than others. The host of the 2016 Summer Games, Brazil, has made incredible strides in LGBTQ equality, but violence against the community—even at the hands of law enforcement—remains a troubling issue. Before it hosts the 2018 games, South Korea has four years to get its act together and provide for same-sex couple recognition and adoption, and direct legal protections against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Beijing is in the running for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and there are no signs that China has any plans to end its rampant human-rights violations.

To be clear, I am not letting Russia off the hook. I won’t be watching a single second of the coverage over the next two weeks, although I have a great deal of admiration for the athletes who trained so hard for Olympic glory. This time can be better spent looking inward and acknowledging all that makes our own nation unsuitable to be a host country: the 33 states than have outright bans on marriage equality; the fact that millions of Americans can lose their jobs because of sexuality or gender identity; our over-reliance on incarceration, particularly for people of color; nagging questions about use of surveillance supposedly in the name of national security; the growing economic disparity; and, as exhibited by the recent social media backlash over Coke’s Super Bowl ad, the lingering fear of our immigrant communities.

Sad to say, but if hypocrisy were an Olympic event, the United States would take home the gold, silver, and bronze medals.