While we at Branded By Sochi feel that the IOC support of the Russian laws, more than makes the case for boycotting the Games, we do understand that there are a number of you that haven’t quite yet come round to this way of thinking. The great news is that there are lots of ways you can easily take a stand without supporting a Boycott of the Games themselves.
For those of you that do understand the leverage that a threat of boycott provides in getting world attention and making other options more attractive to the stakeholders, and feel that boycott of the Games is a legitimate goal, once all other options have been taken off the table by the stakeholders, then we thank you for your full support.
The Case for Boycott
The IOC claims that it’s Games or Organization are not political yet it spends it’s existence getting serenaded by countless delegations from governments desperate to gain from the international exposure and prestige. They set themselves up as being inclusive with a Charter that takes a political stance in protecting ethnicity and religion but not sexuality. The IOC non political assertion is a farce. The IOC would have trouble existing, let alone thriving so well, did it not rely so heavily on the political elites. At Branded By Sochi we believe that they whom make their political bed, get to sleep there too.
The IOC is a very powerful organization, and legally it is in a position to very easily cancel, postpone and relocate the Games, or restrict any individual or team from participating. And while they try to maintain that they are not political they have a history of political influence and intervention that makes its current double standard look like passive homophobia. The IOC pressured Hitler to allow Jews and Blacks at the Games in 1936, and in 2012 the Olympics Committee succeeded in encouraging Saudi Arabia to allow female athletes to compete. Then there was the South African Saga, in which the IOC took a leading roll, when it withdrew its invitation to the 1964 Games, and in 1968 it was the IOC's position that "due to the international climate, the executive committee was of the opinion it would be most unwise for South Africa to participate". At the IOC’s 1969 conference it appointed a committee to produce specific charges of violation of the Olympic Charter, and in 1970 it voted to expel South Africa, which wasn’t allowed to compete in the Games until 1992, after the abolishment of the apartheid system.
Keeping this in mind, we feel that there are many avenues open to the IOC to apply pressure to bring about an agreeable situation in Russia, and for there to still be an open and inclusive Games that uphold it's Charter. It is the IOC's choice to essentially do nothing but give feeble excuses to bide time, that is one of the most worrying aspects of this crisis.
If IOC is not prepared to stand up for its own Charter, Stand up to Putin whom is damaging their prestige and that of the sponsors, and stand up for basic human rights, dignity and safety, then someone else needs to. And that someone else is the collective you!
It is time to engage the stakeholders. It appears that they need a little nudging, a little incentivizing.
FIRST - boycott ALL RUSSIAN PRODUCTS
Time to get Putin's attention and hit him wear it hurts - in his pocket book. So avoid any produce or electronics and consumer goods that originate from Russia. Write to the supermarket chains and retailers, to pressure them to drop and stop carrying goods from Russia. Let them know they you look unfavourably on companies that take your money and sent it to Russia. Also, if in Europe, write to your MP's, government officials and energy service providers to get them work out a long term plan to switch from Russian gas to an alternative resource such as Norway.
SECOND - avoid ALL TRAVEL to RUSSIA
Whether scheduled for business or as a tourist, make alternative arrangements or cancel your trip. Opt to video chat for business and for vacation there are plenty of other interesting cultural destinations that don't use your money to persecute and incite hate towards the population.
THIRD - boycott ALL OLYMPIC SPONSORS
Full disclosure, the most ironic part of this situation is that some of these companies have spent quite a few years fostering good will with the LGBT community and are currently just watching it all hemorrhage away with the blood in Russian streets. The Olympic sponsors are the ones that really hold the strings, and right now they haven’t said much apart from a couple of auto-reply letters, because they think they can get away with it. They seem quite happy to be bankrolling the Russian Government and its TV channels (state owned of course) that push out the hate crime propaganda. Why would you want to spend your money with a company that’s just going to give it to Putin, when there are plenty of other perfectly good alternatives that don’t? Maybe NOW is the time to take that Pepsi Challenge and switch. It really is as simple as making a mental note of which products to avoid ,and just walk a little further down the isle, or drive on by and make a choice that doesn’t compromise your principles. Apply pressure to retailer and service providers to drop and stop carrying products from companies that sponsor the Sochi Olympics, there are plenty of alternative merchandise for them to offer.
FOURTH - boycott ALL SOCHI COVERAGE
The Official Olympic Television Stations that are approved to carry the games in their respective countries have been completely quiet about the unfolding crisis. They all rely on funding and advertising revenue and are counting on record viewership during the Sochi Olympics. As are the sponsors. Just a quick pledge to tune out the Olympics on Television, cable and online during the Games, will alleviate you from being subjected to advertising from companies whom support the Russian Government, and has the added bonus of degrading much expected ratings ad exposure and revenues. You can inform your country’s approved Olympic broadcaster of your intention to tune out their coverage if the Games are held in Sochi.
FIFTH - boycott the Sochi 2014 OLYMPIC GAMES
As a last resort, if the IOC doesn’t stop playing Russian Roulette with Olympic athletes; if they don’t get a full repeal of the Russian anti gay law, or if they don’t move the Games to a venue that can host, adhering to the obligations set out in the Olympic charter (and protecting the aspirations of the athletes), THEN there is no option but to push for member state boycott of the Sochi Games. Putin, has been caught out by the world wide backlash to the laws, and now find’s himself in a corner. He is already embarrassed, he will likely not risk the Olympic spectacle and further loss of face and kudos, just to up hold the anti-gay laws. So write to your Country’s Olympic Comity and your Government to set out the terms needed for Russia and the IOC to avoid a games boycott. If the IOC realizes there is strong international support for a Boycott they WILL move venue. AND if Putin realizes that the IOC has the support and intention to change venues, then he WILL repeal the laws. It is that simple. On the off chance he doesn’t, the very least that will be accomplished, is that countries (including Russia), will think twice before implementing such disgusting laws, as the financial loss, and loss of international prestige, will be too much in any future cost risk analysis. And that is surely a result worth fighting for.
We thank you for supporting this very important cause. We understand that with so much to do, it may seem impossible to boycott every company, organization and product that is complicit. But boycotting what YOU can, will go along way. In whatever way you can, big or small, every little counts. Thank you!