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German president boycotting Olympics over Russia’s human rights violations

Sunday, December 8, 2013

BERLIN — German President Joachim Gauck is boycotting the Winter Olympics and will not travel to Sochi, Russia next year.

Gauck took the decision to protest human rights violations and the harassment of Russian opposition political figures, Der Spiegel reported Sunday. The magazine said the Russian government was informed of his decision last week.

Wolfgang Kumm, APJoachim Gauck

Wolfgang Kumm, AP
Joachim Gauck

Presidential spokeswoman Ferdos Forudastan confirmed the move to the dpa news agency on Sunday. Gauck’s office could not immediately be reached for further confirmation.

Forudastan told dpa that there was no set rule saying German presidents had to travel. Former president Horst Koehler did not travel to Vancouver for the Winter Games in 2010.

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) said on its website that Gauck had not been planning to visit to Sochi “according to our knowledge.”

DOSB director general Michael Vesper told dpa that “(someone) who doesn’t travel doesn’t automatically boycott something. It’s certainly not directed against the German team.”

Gauck, an outspoken critic of Russia’s human-rights record, is yet to visit the country since taking office in March 2012. A planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2012 fell through, apparently for scheduling reasons.

Gauck travelled to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London last year.

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Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected head of the Russian parliament’s lower house, quickly responded to the perceived slight on Twitter: “Gauck never condemned the killing of children and women in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But he denounces Russia (so strongly) he would not go to Sochi.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke against boycotting the games in Sochi last August, in response to Russia’s new law banning alleged gay propaganda. The chancellery said the games in February would focus attention on such issues, and that athletes would be most affected by a boycott.

Arrangements for Merkel’s attendance at Sochi have not yet been made.

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103 more reader comments:

  1. Good for him and I wish our government would do the same

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:03pm
  2. true, but as an Olympic athlete wouldn't you feel good knowing that your president came to cheer you on to win, instead of saying "i hate this countries politics so i wont cheer for you in the games?" if i was an athlete yeah id understand WHY my president didn't want to go because of another countries laws, but id be disappointed they arent there cheering on their nations best athletes on a global scale...

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:44pm
  3. it is a tricky case - I can see both views.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:48pm
  4. I think the rights of LGBT people in Russia to continue living without having to fear for their futures is just a tad more important than our athletes' feelings, to be honest.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:51pm
  5. Honestly Liz, no. Then again, being a trans girl, I A. probably wouldn't have a place in the olympics, B. Wouldn't go to russia for any reason anyways.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:52pm
  6. I wouldn't feel offended by my president not attending, no Liz. If was an athlete, I'd be okay with my president showing support by boycotting the Olympics and staying home and cheering me on. Most people support the athletes from home, as most cannot afford the luxury of travelling overseas.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:54pm
  7. I will be on Tims' time with this....there should be a human rights boycott with this Olympic, so President should not go. Support our team yes, boycott yes...

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:31pm
  8. No I'd rather my leader made sure I was protected in a foreign country as opposed to profiting from it at the expense of my personal safety and my morals and ethics of freedom for all. The BP Olympics prved to the world the IOC is about money first and athletes second, and human rights last.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:47pm
  9. The IOC has no balls. If they did, the games would take place else where ..

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:35pm
  10. Maybe too much in the balls area. stubborn to admit they are wrong

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:44pm
  11. This says their president is boycotting not their country. The Olympics were all about getting all the countries together no matter who was at war, what genocide was being committed, and what nations were being starved. Its nice that you don't give a F about the Olympics, but this problem in Russia isn't worse than what has happened during the Olympics before and throwing in the towel now destroys what the Olympics is all about.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:18am
  12. Ok Alvin you believe that. It is worse to have the Olympians threatened. We are just giving credit where credit is do and saying others should follow....Right now the Russian government can not be trusted, Putin is unstable.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:23pm
  13. Russia should really get with the program…don’t they get the hint?

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:04pm
  14. They don't. They're too ignorant to get it.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:11pm
  15. Bravo!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:04pm
  16. Yes!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:06pm
  17. amazing!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:07pm
  18. Good about time people started to kick off about president rasputin & his bigoted & intolerant regime,pity that David Cameron hasn’t got the ball’s to speak out against his fuck buddy Putin

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:08pm
  19. and yet the country i live in, which used to be one of the most progressive western cultures, won’t even do the same for wanting to be too conservative…. how far we’ve fallen

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:08pm
  20. The regressives in this country are a minority, they just seem to be everywhere because of how loud and hysterical they are. Within a generation people will wonder how this was ever even an issue, except that 20% of the country that will always keep trying to drag us back into caves. Those people will have just about as much influence as someone's racist 80 year-old grandfather has now. Good people are doing good things and making huge leaps forward, they just don't get on the news very much. Don't give up hope just yet. :)

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:22pm
  21. Some people live in the past, some in the future...all we have is now Ryan.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:37pm
  22. Bless you German president.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:11pm
  23. At least one world leader with courage to take a stand against Russian hateful policies.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:11pm
  24. It’s a start and hopefully more will follow. Good for him and may our government do the same

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:12pm
  25. Don’t be too proud.. A German president does actually nothing, except sitting in his castle in berlin. Furthermore in Germany gays and lesbians aren’t equal and will never be.. This year our constitutional court had to push our government to work on equality between homos and heteros.. They wouldn’t have done it on their own..

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:15pm
  26. Sometimes voicing support is like slapping them in the face....No government fully supports the LGBT movement...

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:36pm
  27. It’s good to see Fred Willard is doing well for himself.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:16pm
  28. well, he lived in Eastern German and knows what this is all about!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:19pm
  29. yes, he is from East Germany and was a pastor

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:44pm
  30. The oppression of LGBT community was stronger in the West Germany than in the DDR. Sure, the whole state-capitalist block was very reactionary in LGBT issues (and not only in this field), but in general much less reactionary and bigoted than the "free" private-capitalist West.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 2:05am
  31. Sometimes our german president isn’t useless at all :D

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:26pm
  32. bravo mister president.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:27pm
  33. one person CAN make a difference in the fact that it at least brings issues into the “main stream” and hopefully the Olympic Comity will see this as a point of issue. two maybe 3 more countries take issue with Russia’s policies and maybe just maybe the Olympics will grow a pair and force change orrrrrr change host nations. ITS NEVER TOO LATE FOR CHANGE. hes a hero among men in my opinion

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:28pm
  34. Good for him. We need to do the same.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:29pm
  35. BRAVO…Joachim Gauck….Thank you for your solidarity!!!….Any other world leaders going to stand with him against Putin??

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:40pm
  36. Parece ser que los alemanes son los únicos que tienen un mínimo de decencia en este tema.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:40pm
  37. Brilliant!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:44pm
  38. He looks like the father on That ’70s Show.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:45pm
  39. like that is important to the conversation

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:33pm
  40. UP! (Disney movie)

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 7:10am
  41. I thought Fred Willard myself.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:31pm
  42. That’s good. Also Liz Corsey uhhh this isn’t just some countries politics. This is a nationwide discrimination. PEOPLE ARE DYING AND BEING KIDNAPPED AND HURT for just being themselves. This is just the beginning of the holocaust for Gays over there if things keep going downhill there. And what country knows better than anyone about Holocausts? Germany.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:49pm
  43. Thank God…

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:50pm
  44. I have mixed emotions on this. If he feels so strongly then he should not go and also not send his athletes. I understand making a stand but I don’t think that will help and may demotivate his athletes. It is sad all the way around and is all happening because of one mans hatred. What a shame it’s happening at all.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:54pm
  45. …the old guy from ‘up’ is the german president?

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:57pm
  46. yes - the president, not the chancellor! Angela Merkel is the chancellor

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:42pm
  47. I think most Germans know how the NAZI murdered Gays and he is wright to call for a boycott good for you sir! It’s right to be a man stand for something just!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:10pm
  48. I would love to see all athletes worldwide boycott these Olympics. Personally I think the Olympic committee needs to tell Russia back off or lose these Olympics.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:12pm
  49. Good Man!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:14pm
  50. why the fuck haven’t all the world leaders just noped out? damn cowards

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:16pm
  51. Well, at least some politicians have some balls.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:37pm
  52. Nice!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:52pm
  53. My opinion of Germany just catapulted upwards.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:53pm
  54. thank you!! We aren't so bad

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:45pm
  55. yes!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:01pm
  56. GOOD!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:02pm
  57. Is a GOLD medal worth the hell that Russia is putting the gay community through? Not in my book.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:17pm
  58. The real power lies with the Chancellor, Angela Merkel. If she were to declare a boycott, this thing would take off and give the Russian bigots pause.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:45pm
  59. about time! Finally a Germany worth looking up to. Obama’s all about the money. not human rights same for the IOC.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 8:45pm
  60. A true human being .

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:05pm
  61. If only our own President would do the same– though I don’t know if I planned on attending–

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:09pm
  62. Boycott anything Russian ..

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:31pm
  63. Finally someone! I am at least somewhat proud to be a german!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 10:12pm
  64. Find ich richtig gut, dass Gauck daheim bleibt! Und es schadet nicht, stolz auf Deutschland zu sein.

    Replied on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:49pm
  65. The treatment of Pussy Riot tells the truth about the Russian military machine regards gay women and men. Boycott the Olympics. First things first. Complete boycott, don’t patronize companies that advertise on the Olympics. Boycott and organize resistance.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 10:37pm
  66. Well, at least one country has a cool president………..

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 10:40pm
  67. Good on him!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 10:49pm
  68. Good for him

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:06pm
  69. BOYCOTT RUSSIA…

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:17pm
  70. Here are my two cents: Gauck is not a world leader, he is not a plitician, he is the German version of a king/queen in a constitutional morachy (like the queen in England). But I think he is doing the right thing about boycotting Sotchi. And yes, Germans know that the Nazis murdered jews, gays …

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:38pm
  71. Hooray for Germany. Good move.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:38pm
  72. It’s nice to see ONE politician with some moral courage!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:43pm
  73. Good for him!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 12:15am
  74. I glance at that pic and think it’s Fred Willard. EVERY time.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 12:38am
  75. thank you for taking that stand…..we want justice for all

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 12:42am
  76. Whoa!! Good move!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 12:53am
  77. Did anyone else notice that the German president looks a bit like Fred Willard?

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:24am
  78. Good for him! Nice to see some politicians have a backbone.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:39am
  79. Danke Sie sehr!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:52am
  80. As he should… Just waiting for President Obama to do the same

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:58am
  81. yeah would be a good idea only bad thing is the groups that hate him will be bitching & we gotta listen to it

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:41am
  82. He looks a lot like James Garner from the Rockford Files.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 2:01am
  83. http://www.mgientertainment.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/james-garner-stroke-255x300.jpg

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 2:32am
  84. At least one government official actually doing something that shows a commitment to the principle of equality in human rights ….. unlike most politicians who simply run their mouths about it for public consumption!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 2:20am
  85. Amazing what courage some politicians have.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 2:35am
  86. well done sir…Danke

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:02am
  87. Boycotting didn’t work in 1980 to change russia and it won’t work now…all it does is piss on the athletes who work their lives to get their…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:11am
  88. Yes! We need more like him! I’m not watching.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:24am
  89. he knows of what he speaks – he helped to document the abuses and horrors of Stassi…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:35am
  90. Obama listen up.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:57am
  91. yeah it will be cool if Obama did the same. Only problum is we will have to hear the other groups useing it to try to get rid of him. but telling russia to shove it would be best thing to do

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:35am
  92. Wow, good on you Germany!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:28am
  93. Bloody good on him! Bout time someone took a noticeable stand against to foolishness that is Russia

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:07am
  94. You know, when German people are judging you… (Just kidding!)

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:20am
  95. This stance is consistent with Harvey Fierstein call to ‘hit them where it hurts’, it may not be in the spirit of Mandela’s call to turn the other cheek but the boycott strategy has legitimacy

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:12am
  96. I’m glad. Someone should finally take a stance. Sad though that Merkel is somewhat still planning on attending. Bad going against the president. I think the Olympic committee should seriously rethink the sochi games. I don’t see the benefit of sending the worlds athletes to a country run by a homophobe and consumed with social violence.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 12:56pm
  97. Just a politician, not the German teams, not very interesting, give me some real news!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:46pm
  98. Sehr gut! Danke Herr Gauck. (y)

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:47pm
  99. haha gogo

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 2:29pm
  100. Huzzah

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:11pm
  101. I so commend him for his decision.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:46pm
  102. right on!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:20pm
  103. Thank you Joachim Gauck. I would like to visit some time…. countries with full equality like yours are looking quite pleasing these days.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:56pm