Officials from the International Olympic Committee -- including president Thomas Bach -- this weekend met with LGBT activists from Russia and members of the Federation of Gay Games. The meeting was called to discuss ways the IOC can work with LGBT sports groups and open a dialogue about LGBT issues in the Olympic movement.
One of the people at the meeting was Elvina Yuvakaeva, chair for the Russian Open Games. The Open Games are an international LGBT sporting event to be held in Moscow between the Olympics and the Paralympics, designed to promote healthy lifestyle and physical culture.
We explained to Mr Bach our increasing difficulties in obtaining venues for our sporting events, in particular for our first international tournament, the Open Games, which we will be hosting in Moscow in the period between the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We fear that after the Olympics and Paralympics, when the attention of the world decreases, homophobic repression will become even worse, with, for example, the reintroduction of the bill to remove children from gay parents.
It is very likely that these Open Games will be the last event in which Russian LGBT athletes will be able to take place in their own country. We requested a letter of support from Mr Bach, both to help to obtain venues, and to offer some protection from the violence we fear we may face, fears heightened by the events at the Side by Side film festival in St Petersburg.
FGG vice-president of external affairs Marc Naimark was thrilled with the meeting and is optimistic about future conversations.
"I know that our friends from the Russian LGBT Sports Federation were disappointed that no actions were announced at the end of the meeting, but that's not what this encounter was about," Naimark said. "The IOC representatives expressed their desire as a sports organization to talk about LGBT issues with LGBT sports bodies. This is a real opportunity to promote our shared values of sport for all and sport free from discrimination."