As well as using the stick of boycott, there needs to be some encouragement given to the stakeholders, so that they know we’ll support them in making the right tough ethical decisions. The great thing is that the many different stakeholders involved in the Olympics are hugely powerful and very familiar in making decisions of significance both fiscal and logistical.
So while it might be ‘inconvenient’ for them to respond as good corporate or political citizens, in the context of the Sochi Olympic Human Rights Crisis, solutions that can bring to bear pressure and gain results are well within the scope of their influence and experience. These government agencies and international corporations are making billion dollar decisions and pulling off logistical miracles every day. One more, when the rewards are so great, is really not much to ask.
Needless to say many of these leveraging initiatives become more effective accompanied with the threat of boycott to relevant parties. We cover the range of legitimate boycott options in our 'boycott' section. Here we outline the different outreach initiatives and causers of action you can take.
FIRST - demand VISA DENIAL FOR PROMINENT RUSSIANS
Write to leading politicians in your country and your area Member of Parliament, compelling them to implement a travel visa denial and no fly list. On the list, should be included, members of the Russian political elite that have a hand in supporting the Anti-LGBT initiatives and laws. And because many of the large corporations such as telecom, broadcasting and technology are state owned in Russia and directly fund the Russian Government, the visa denial and no fly list should be extended to cover executive level management of such organizations. Lastly there are prominent members of the Fascist groups that are taking advantage of the laws to commit and incite hate crimes, needless to say they should also be included on the list.
SECOND - lobby the INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMITY
The IOC’s passive homophobia has been astounding in light of its obligations set out in it’s own Charter. It needs a bit of encouragement to take the situation and their roll seriously. So write to the IOC. Ask them to consider relocating the games so that they can take place in a venue that is safe for all while supporting the athletes, even if it logistically it means holding them in 2015. Implore them to take a stronger line for human rights and hold Russia to the legal agreement that it committed to when applying to host the games. (To maximize your effort, anticipate a pre-empt and generic IOC response that includes, ‘not being a political organization’ and ‘received Russian assurances’. It is best to already cover these in your correspondence, demanding that they provide detailed intent of action that will go some way to resolving the problem, beyond the status quo and just showing up at the games.)
THIRD - pressure WESTERN POLITICIANS
It is time to hold our elected officials feet to the fire. They have been elected to represent you and uphold the ethical position of your country, and it is relevant to remind them of this. Write to your Premier/President/Prime Minister and your countries Foreign Minister along with your Member of Parliament. Let them know they have a responsibility to speak out and work together (including their international counterparts) to bring pressure to bear on the IOC and Russian Government to resolve this crisis before the Games. Tell them NOT to take boycott off the table as a means for leveraging effective change. (To Maximize your effort, anticipate a pre-empt and generic response that includes, ‘ boycott not effective’, ‘athletes interests’ and ‘gay visibility at Sochi games is the answer’. It is best to already cover these in your correspondence, stating that athletes interests can be served by a change of venue by Winter 2015 and demanding that they provide detailed intent of action that will go some way to resolving the problem, beyond the status quo and just showing up at the games.)
FIFTH - pressure OLYMPIC SPONSORS
As the Sochi Winter Olympic Games draws closer, it seems that the international brand sponsors are deciding to make the calculation that it is better, for them at least, to sit tight and ride this commitment out, without so much as a comment or acknowledgement as to what that commitment supports. Here is where you come in. Reach out via social media (Facebook or Twitter) and directly through traditional correspondence and email, and let the Olympic Sponsors know that their continued silence and complicit actions will encourage you to question your brand loyally and consider a competitor. There are contact lists on this site for the Olympic sponsors. Many Sponsor corporations have already sent back generic automatic form letters in response to letters, stating their general concern (but lack of action). So when you contact the various stakeholders be sure to express that a generic reply is NOT acceptable, reasonable or respectful, and insist that they publicly come out one way or another, either in support of the Russian Government antigay legislation or against it.
SIXTH - encourage RETAILERS TO DROP Russian Products
Russian products are widely sold around the world and very likely where you live, it may see impossible to identify products that aren’t obviously of Russian origin, but there is an easy way. All products originating from Russia carry the numbers 460 – 469 at the beginning of the product bar code. Write to you local liquor board/retailer, electronics store and grocery outlets to inform them of the situation and that you would feel better giving them patronage if they were no longer pervaders of Russian products. Make it clear that the only way to ensure your continued customer loyalty is for them to take Russian products of their shelves and itinerary.
SEVENTH - encourage GOVERNMENT TO LAY SANCTIONS on Russian Trade
Many products that come out of Russia are in the form of natural resources, technologies and arms that are sold to State and Government agencies around the world. For example, while many European countries are currently in contractual agreements for natural gas from Russia, internal pressure can be brought to bear to encourage governments to look for alternative natural resource partners, that fit a better ethical profile, such as Norway. Tell your government representatives to take a hard line on Russian human rights abuses. Suggest that as in Africa where aid is now tied to human rights development, that future trade considerations with Russia should be too. You can get contact information for a number of government ministries for countries around the world on this site.
EIGTH - ask RETAILERS TO CARRY PRODUCTS that don't sponsor Sochi
As well informing retailers that you expect them to drop Russian originated product , also reach out to them encouraging them to carry products that do NOT sponsor Sochi. For example if it’s a choice between Coke and Pepsi, suggest that pepsi on their shelves would be less offensive. Suggest that they use MasterCard retail transaction machines instead of VISA. Using social media and emailing or even talking directly to a store manager, bring their attention to the ethical issues surrounding the support of various products, and implore them to bring pressure to bear by choosing the ethical alternatives.
We thank you for supporting this very important cause. We understand that with so much to do, it may seem impossible to contact every stakeholder that is complicit. But reaching out to whomever YOU can will go along way. In whatever way you can, big or small, every little counts. Thank you! You may be able to deal with a number of the issues in one go. For example When you write to your country’s Foreign Minister PM and President, you can cover VISA DENIAL, TRADE SANCTIONS, PUTTING PRESSURE on the IOC and WORKING WITH international counterparts, in one correspondence. Also once you have your letter ready and sent to your representatives, you may as well make the most of it and also send it to the leaders of other countries as well. All contact information listed on this site.
We also recommend that you publish on social media the letters that you sent. This will encourage others to follow your example, bring attention to the issues, and put the added pressure of a transparent forum on the stakeholders involved.