Gay athlete Johnny Weir has spoken out urging people to not boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics due to be held in Sochi, Russia.
The 29-year-old figure skater said the Olympics are ‘not a political statement’ and therefore should allow young sportspeople to shine.
He said he could understand the sacrifices families make to allow athletes to compete in the worldwide sporting event, referencing when his family sold their car to be sure they could watch him compete at his first Olympics.
‘The fact that Russia is arresting my people, and openly hating a minority and violating Human Rights all over the place is heartbreaking and a travesty of international proportions, but I still will compete,’ he said.
‘There isn’t a police officer or a government that, should I qualify, could keep me from competing at the Olympics.
‘I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof.
Weir added: ‘I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world. I pray that people will believe in the Olympic movement no matter where the event is being held, because the Olympics are history, and they do not represent their host, they represent the world entire.
‘People make their own futures, and should a government or sponsor steal that future, whether it be the Russian government or American government, it is, as an athlete, the death and total demolition of a lifetime of work. Support the athletes.’
Weir also noted the only time the US and other countries boycotted was the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow intended to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He said the only people it hurt were the athletes forced to watch at home.
Like Weir, another gay athlete is going to risk arrest and deportation at the Sochi Winter Olympics.