Moscow venues canceling contracts the day before Open Games to highlight LGBT athletes in Russia

[clockwise from top left] Konstantin Yablotskiy; Maria Kozlovskaya; Elvina Yuvakaeva; Anastasia Smirnova; Masha Gessen - Platon/The People's Portfolio for Human Rights Watch

At least four sports venues have canceled, in addition to the Hilton Hotel, which was set to host a roundtable discussion.

Various venues set to host the Russian Open Games in Moscow this week have canceled, including the Hilton Hotel and four sports venues. Organizers allege the government has pressured these venues to discontinue relationships with the Russian LGBT Sports Federation, the organizers of the Open Games.

The Russian Open Games are a multi-day, multi-sport event to promote "healthy lifestyles, physical activity and sports among the LGBT community and its supporters." It is set to be the first of its kind held in Russia.

Anastasia Smirnova sent this email today to a group of organizations working together to assist LGBT-rights efforts in Russia:

"As we expected, things started to happen -- but on a greater scale than one could imagine. Throughout the past couple of hours, several venues cancelled their agreements with the organizers of the Open Games under various pretexts. In some of these cases, the organizers were informed about 'calls from the administration' that venue management received.

"Hilton Hotel, where the Russian LGBT Network was planning to host a public roundtable discussion, cancelled the agreement with them as well."

This has been the modus operandi of the Russian government on LGBT issues: Publicly state acceptance of LGBT people while allowing gangs to kidnap and torture them and pushing private entities to discontinue relationships.

The Russian LGBT Sports Federation has launched a change.org petition asking Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, to not attend the Paralympic Games in Sochi if the Open Games are disallowed from taking place in Moscow.

Attendees at the Open Games are set to include former Olympic diver Greg Louganis and a Dutch sports minister.

Watch an interview of Russian LGBT Sports Federation co-president Konstantin Yablotskiy with Charley Walters last week in Russia.

UESE IN SOCHI - An Interview with Konstantin Yablotskiy, Russian LGBT Sports Federation from UESE on Vimeo.

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