Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 8 August 2013

Today’s Hero

Today's Hero: Stephen Fry

We all know I’m not the staunchest fan of Stephen Fry, but, today, I’m nominating him as my newest political hero.

He’s right up there with Jon Gnarr, whom I talked about in this blog, for taking a stand against Vladimir Putin and his appalling anti-LGBT laws.

Stephen Fry wrote an open letter to David Cameron and our government and to the IOC, registering his opposition to the Winter Olympic Games being held in Sochi, Russia in 2014, and he’s right. He cites the Berlin Olympics of 1936, giving Hitler an international platform, and increased confidence for his political ambitions, and, ultimately, for his persecution of the Jews. I happen to think the comparison is perfectly just.

It’s well worth reading the letter, since Stephen Fry quotes back to the IOC it’s very own oaths and protocols. How can it possibly ignore such a plea?

The truth is that it probably will ignore that plea.

In 1980 and 1984, the summer Olympiads held in Moscow and Los Angeles respectively had some of the lowest attendances of the century. Only 80 nations participated in the Moscow games after Jimmy Carter issued a boycott  to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The World’s superpowers played tit for tat and in 1984 the Soviet Union and fourteen of her allies boycotted the LA Olympiad. 

The twentieth century was fraught with political tensions and hardly an Olympiad was celebrated that wasn’t boycotted by someone for political reasons, or from which nations weren’t banned, again for some political reason or another.

Human Rights mean more than that. 

Human Rights are universal.

Nations have boycotted previous Olympiads in the name of justice, and not just in the name of politics. In 1976 only 92 of 121 countries took part in the Montreal Olympics. Several African nations boycotted the games because of a South African tour undertaken by New Zealand’s Rugby Union team under apartheid. I don’t think anyone would argue that they were wrong or misguided in doing so. 

It is not enough for Putin to say that the values of Russians are not the same as the values of other peoples. Human Rights should be enjoyed by everyone, including the people he was elected to serve. 

Human Rights should not be a matter of opinion. 

Human Rights are not the same as political opinions.

Any nation that is prepared to boycott an Olympiad on any political platform ought to be prepared to boycott the 2014 Olympiad on the strength of these basic Human Rights issues. Any nation that is prepared to impose a ban on a participating nation on any political grounds ought to be prepared to take a stand on the 2014 Olympiad in response to Putin’s record on Human Rights.

If nations won’t do it, if our government and our IOC representatives won’t make a decision on this and withdraw our athletes from the 2014 Winter Olympics then perhaps the athletes should withdraw their support of the event, and perhaps we should too.

If the Sochi Olympiad goes ahead, I, for one, won’t be tuning in to watch any of the sporting events that take place. In fact, if the BBC spends my license fee, sending cameras and sound men and reporters to Sochi, there’s a good chance I’ll be deducting a percentage from my license fee next year in protest, because I don’t want to support this event, and I won’t support this event, and I hope you decide that you won’t either.

There is a precedent for this. Politicians have made decisions about these events on our behalf, and without consulting us, for every Olympiad since the modern games began in 1908. 

Stephen Fry has given us an opportunity to show this government what we think about the decision it will make on our behalf with regard to the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. Let’s support him and his letter, and let’s help the government and the IOC make a swift and easy decision on our behalf, and let’s boycott these games and send Putin a message that Human Rights matter, and that discriminating against any section of society is not OK and won’t be tolerated. 

You can sign a petition to relocate the 2014 Winter Olympics HERE.


  1. 100% agree. I will also be boycotting the Russian Grand Prix which is likely to be on the F1 calendar next year. I love F1 (and indeed all motorsport) passionately, but knowing the Putin has been "instrumental" in bringing the grand prix to Russia leaves a bad taste in my mouth. F1 has a habit of this, claiming apolitical status in order to keep raking in cash from holding races in countries with horrific human rights records - Bahrain springs instantly to mind - and it's about time that the fans took a stand and let the FIA know that we want to see a sport that has ethics and a conscience, rather than a blithe money making exercise that cynically ignores the filth in which it makes its bed by claiming some token 'apolitical' stance.

    And I will be signing that petition - you can guarantee it.

  2. While he does have a point, sort of, it's not heroic. Absolutely not.

    What the man, who stopped the Chinese army tanks with his body, did during the Tiananmen Square massacre, that was heroic.

    Writing a letter to a politician and an organization that has a history of supporting fascists (from kowtowing to Hitler to Red China and even the islamo-fscists) isn't. He has no skin in the game, it's just a letter. Anyone can do that.

    Sochi will go ahead, what's the IOC going to do? The decent thing? They've never done that, they let Iran and Saudi-Arabia compete, where women are oppressed and gays murdered, why would they start with it now over Russia?

    The entire Olympic idea has been a farce since 1936 and every four years this IOC reminds us that they're just another bunch of spineless idiots by letting fascist countries waltz in with the free ones in a fake idea of "peace" which can't exist as long as there are fascists.

    Also e-petitions are irrelevant. Anyone can sign them and they allow a vast amount of fraudulent signatures. Nobody takes them really seriously. Plus, why would a few thousand signatures make the IOC throw out all the money they got? The IOC does whatever it wants, in four years Sochi will be forgotten and people will watch this nonsense again.

    Though, that said... why's there never a petition to ban all those fascist countries from the Olympics?

    North Korea operates concentration camps and is basically the Nazi Germany of East Asia. China isn't far behind, yet both are allowed and welcomed every time they take part in this farce. And nobody puts up any petitions. Same for any random islamic country, where the human rights situation is always much worse than anything Putin can do in Russia. I've never heard of any petitions there.

    But when it deals with Russia, then suddenly people start screaming.

    Do I sense some double standards? I certainly do.