Bach: not a stage “to score points”

SOCHI, Russia — We all make choices. Those choices hold consequences. A few weeks back, the president of the United States opted in his choice of the White House delegation to the 2014 Winter Games not to include even one senior American political figure but, in an obvious protest of Russia’s law against gay “propaganda,” to send, among others, the tennis legend Billie Jean King.

In a blunt address Tuesday night opening the 126th session of the International Olympic Committee, with the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on hand, the new IOC president, Thomas Bach, declared, “People have a very good understanding of what it really means to single out the Olympic Games to make an ostentatious gesture which allegedly costs nothing but produces international headlines.”

IOC president Thomas Bach and Russian president Vladimir Putin Tuesday in Sochi // photo courtesy Russian president's office

IOC president Thomas Bach and Russian president Vladimir Putin Tuesday in Sochi // photo courtesy Russian president’s office

He then added, “In the extreme we had to see a few politicians whose contributions to the fight for a good cause consisted of publicly declining invitations they had not even received.”

Obama is, of course, not here. Neither are the presidents of Germany or France.

Then again, the heads of state of state or government of 52 nations are, believed to be a Winter Games record.

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One thought on “Bach: not a stage “to score points”

  1. “Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful direct political dialogue and not on the backs of the athletes.”

    This is ridiculous. He makes it sound as if a boycott is preventing athletes from living out their dreams.

    Let’s be clear: not a single American athlete has suffered because Barack Obama chose to stay home and send gay representatives to Sochi. Not a single German or British athlete has been harmed because their political leaders chose not to attend.

    Everyone knows that these leaders are absent for a reason; a principle. And it should go without saying that vast majorities of these youthful, Western delegations would support that principle.

    What Bach is upset about is not that the athletes have been disrespected, it’s that HE and the IOC have been disrespected. After all, it would be great to have all the world’s leaders come together in Sochi and sing Kumbaya under the Olympic flag. Obama’s absence takes a little bit of prestige away from the affair. That’s the point.

    (And this: “publicly declining invitations they had not even received”…. a shockingly churlish statement from the Most Powerful Man in International Sport, no?)

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