Openly gay Johnny Weir is heading to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi as a commentator for NBC and doesn’t plan to ruffle any feathers when it comes to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.
The former Olympic skater, who announced his retirement from his sport earlier this week, says he will be focused on skating, not politics.
‘I risk jail time just going there, but the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement,’ Weir tells The New York Times. ‘I’m not a politician and I don’t really talk about politics. You don’t have to agree with the politics, but you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting.’
Weir, 29, believes he is doing his part just by being there as a commentator.
‘It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been gay my whole life,’ he says. ‘I don’t need to break any laws or wear a rainbow pin to show people that I support gay rights. I think I’ll do that just by being in Sochi and supporting our people there and know they are not alone.’
The three-time US champion is aware of the backlash building against him for not speaking out.
‘The gay community has not reacted well to me because some people think it’s my responsibility to be an activist,’ he says. ‘They’re expecting me to hate Russia because I haven’t been given equal rights in Russia.’
Weir also points to Elton John’s decision to perform concerts in Russia in December as a defense: If it’s good enough for Elton John, it’s good enough for me. Every country’s going to have its issues.’