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McArthur: Should Canada boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics?

By: /
9 August, 2013
John McArthur
By: John McArthur

Senior fellow, Brookings Institution 

Absolutely not. For elite young athletes, the Olympics represent the culmination of a life’s work and dreams (up to that point). I know too many Canadians who lost their opportunity to participate, shine and even win medals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. We should never let politics get in the way of our young people pursuing their highest and most meritocratic aspirations.

There are many legitimate reasons to disagree with recent decisions by the Russian government, including unjust anti-gay laws that violate basic human rights. The IOC of course has a responsibility to ensure all participating Olympians are protected and free of harassment. If even that cannot be guaranteed then the right move would be to find a different venue, rather than to boycott. But as a general principle we should always trust the athletes to make their own decisions on how to respond to politics, rather than risk letting politicians make uncorrectable mistakes that misspeak on the athletes’ behalf.

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