Lifestyle & Belief

LGBT games in Russia met by thugs, bomb threats, and official obstruction


The ad hoc opening ceremony to the 'Open Games' in Moscow.


Charles Maynes

After the winter Olympics, Russia is now hosting the “Open Games.”

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

The Open Games are athletic events open to all. But they are being organized by LGBT rights groups.

That means they're getting a frosty reception from Russian officialdom.

More than 300 athletes and other participants from 11 countries and from across Russia are gathered in Moscow. Sports include skiing, skating, volleyball, swimming, and tennis. 

An opening ceremony was called off at the last minute after a bomb scare. An impromptu ceremony was instead held at a night-club.

Reporter Charles Maynes was able to find the ceremony after what he called “a bit of a cloak and dagger evening.”

“They’ve also had other problems,” says Maynes. “Some of the venues cancelled on them for the sporting events.”

The organizers say thugs have also chased some participants out of their hostels and hotels.

And according to Maynes, migration officials have also visited some of the Russian athletes from out of town at their hotels.

Reporter Maynes says it’s not clear if this is all “coming from on high.” In a press release earlier this week, organizers warned they were fearful of a “pogrom” (a violent campaign targeting a minority).

There will also be a variety of educational, advocacy, cultural, and entertainment events. But, the organizers say they are being careful not to violate the controversial Russian law that prohibits exposing minors to gay “propaganda.”

No-one under 18 is allowed to attend any event.

The organizers want to highlight their perception that “assurances of non-discrimination and equal access to sport by the Russian authorities do not extend to anything outside of the Sochi games.”

But the organizers are also worried their message may be drowned out by the drumbeat from the crisis with Ukraine next door.

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    American Olympic diver and author, Greg Louganis, and Russian 'Open Game' organizers


    Charles Maynes