While opposed to a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics, two Canadian Olympians marched before an estimated 650,000 people at Vancouver's pride parade Sunday to show their solidarity with LGBT athletes and opposing new anti-gay laws in Russia.
Alpine skiier Mike Janyk and snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll, both of whom competed in 2006 and 2010 and hope to next year, said they wanted to send a message.
"That's what the Olympics are all about. They are there to have fun, to show the great side of humanity that sport brings out and to support anyone from any race or sexual orientation," Janyk said. "It's about being happy, enjoying your life and competing in sport, for us. ... It's very important to come out and show that as Canadian Olympians, and as Canadians, we're all for equal rights."
Said Nicoll: "The world is a tough place and sport is definitely one of the things that makes it so much better. As Olympians, we have the opportunity to share some important values with people in our communities, our country and across the world. That's why I'm here marching today."
But both athletes are opposed to calls for boycotting the Games over the new laws. "Boycotting would not solve anything," Janyk said. "Us going there to do our best is the best way to deal with a situation like this." Added Nicoll: "The talk about the boycott is kind of sad. Just being athletes we put so much time and effort into our sports."