Greg Louganis: Don’t Boycott Sochi

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis has penned a lengthy column in which he objects to any boycott of the Sochi Olympics.  An excerpt:

Boycotting sends the wrong message and will only harm the hard-working athletes set to compete in the 2014 Olympics, not the Russian government itself. I know from personal experience. My first Olympics I won Silver at age 16, and then in 1980, at the height of my diving career, President Jimmy Carter opted to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a method of protesting the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. The toll on fellow athletes and me was devastating. We had trained our entire lives for that one moment. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to continue my diving career and return to compete and win two gold medals in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (an Olympics the Eastern Block counties boycotted) and repeat two gold medals in 1988 Olympics in Seoul. But, other athletes were not so lucky. Some of those who missed the 1980 games never had another chance to shine. This boycott hurt the wrong people, taking a toll on prominent athletes more than the country it targeted. I’m concerned the same would be true today. There are far too many athletes for whom the 2014 Sochi Olympics represents their only chance at success. A boycott will only hurt these athletes’ careers.

Louganis closes by noting that he is working with Athlete Ally and All Out to turn the Sochi Olympics into a “teachable moment” about the plight of LGBT people in Russia.