A gay snowboarder is to risk arrest and deportation at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia next February.
Australian athlete Belle Brockhoff is the only known openly gay athlete to be qualified for next year’s Games.
Going for gold in the snowboard cross, this is the 20-year-old’s first Olympics and she is going to make it count.
‘I’m one of those people who just wants to separate politics from sports,’ she said.
‘I don’t like politics or negative social beliefs. But I know that’s not going to happen. All athletes try to separate that in their heads but it is quite hard to do.’
While Brockhoff has she will not be participating in any protests, she believes she has found a way of raising awareness without breaking Russian law or the International Olympics Committee rules.
She will be promoting and wearing ‘Principle Six’ merchandise, a clothing line supported by international equality organizations All Out and Athlete Ally.
The name is in reference to Principle Six of the IOC charter that states any form of discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement.
As such she will promote and wear `Principle Six’ merchandise, a clothing line supported by international equality organisations such as All Out and Athlete Ally.
‘If I’m not wearing the hat I will wear the Principle Six beanie or T-shirt,’ Brockhoff said.
‘I’ll wear what I have to wear for the team because I am representing Australia but apart from that I’ll definitely be wearing P6 stuff.
‘It’s kind of a way of protesting but not really. It’s directed towards the IOC, it’s not directed to the Russian government so if athletes want to wear it around the Games they will be quite safe to do so.
‘It’s simple, it’s powerful and I think it will change a lot of things after the Games.’
Due to the IOC banning anything that may be seen as a form of ‘protest’, it is unknown whether Brockhoff will be punished for wearing the clothing line.
But despite the IOC rules, chief Thomas Bach has bartered with the Russian government to set up ‘protest zones’.
‘It would be great if they could let it go and just let people say and do what they want,’ Brockhoff added to AAP.
‘But it is all about the athletes and the sport and it shouldn’t be about anything else.
‘They should be showing support for the gay athletes as well, to support them and say “Hey, we’re behind you and will help you to achieve the very best in the sport”.’