Irish Olympian Backs Sochi Protests

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Irish runner, Ciarán O’Lionáird thinks Olympians should protest Russia’s controversial ‘gay propaganda’ law at the Olympics in Sochi next month.


O’Lionáird, a Cork runner who competed in the London 2012 Olympics, told Newstalk’s Off the Ball that he is a supporter of gay rights and believes other Olympic athletes show support for the LGBT community in Russia.

Speaking on the radio show, he said, “Obviously Russia’s made some decisions politically that are not in line with what I would agree with, in terms of discriminating against the LGBT movement.”

He continued, “They’ve made protests pretty difficult — they have their protest zones 20km from the arena, and that’s going to encourage a demonstration.”

The Cork man also spoke of homophobia in sports in general, and explained how attitudes are changing.

“A lot of the time, athletics and sport in general is seen as a place where the LGBT community hasn’t had a lot of support, especially in male team sports — there’s maybe less of a tendency to speak out and sport is seen as a macho kind of thing. And it’s really good that things are changing now in that regard, because athletes do need to speak up, especially at a spectacle like Sochi.

“Society is obviously progressing and in Ireland especially, it seems like the rights of LGBT people are being promoted. If there’s injustice and it permeates our world, as athletes, we should have the right to fight back.

He concluded, “At the end of the day, LGBT rights are the big social issue now.”

The Sochi 2014 Olympics are scheduled to take place from 6 to 23 February 2014.


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