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Weir caught in a crossfire of ‘hate and scrutiny’ for not boycotting Olympics

Friday, January 17, 2014
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Johnny Weir

Johnny Weir

LYNDHURST, N.J. – Champion figure skater Johnny Weir said Thursday he has been caught up “in a crossfire” for not supporting a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympic games in the wake of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Weir, who will serve as a commentator for NBC’s coverage of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, chided gay rights activists, who he said have a “pre-conceived notion” that the Olympics is “a place to fight for the LGBT community of Russia.”

“I’ve come under so much hate and scrutiny from within my own LGBT community for my views on the Olympics,” Weir told Reuters from his home in northern New Jersey.

“As somebody who watched my parents sacrifice everything so that I had at least one chance of making the Olympics, I could never boycott the Olympics whether they be in Pyongyang (in North Korea), in Uganda, in Iran or Mars.

“I would have competed there because my whole life has been about going to the Olympics. Being gay isn’t something that I chose, being gay is something I was born into.

[…]

“The entire Olympic team is not made up of LGBT people. It’s people who’ve sacrificed their livelihoods, it’s people who’ve sacrificed their parents’ finances and health and sometimes even marriages to get that one chance at glory.

“As an athlete who’s lived it, I could never turn my face to that. While equality is necessary all over the world, the Olympics is not the place for me to make a stand.”

Weir has been targeted by gay rights activists, including the group Queer Nation, who allege his participation as a commentator “in effect” endorses Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, which prohibits the “promotion of non-traditional relationships” as either normal or equal to that of heterosexual relationships.

“I see the Olympics strictly as a sporting event and not a political event. I see the Olympics for what they are – it’s young people performing for their country and for glory. That’s how I see the Olympics, I don’t see them as a political protest,” said Weir.

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