Sebastian Coe and David Cameron dismiss winter Olympics boycott idea

12/08/2013 18:02

BOA chairman and prime minister reject call to stay away from Sochi in wake of Russia's new anti-gay propaganda laws.
Sebastian Coe has rejected calls for a boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi in the wake of Russia's new anti-gay propaganda laws – calling it a "ludicrous proposition" and insisting that boycotts do not work.
Lord Coe, who is the chairman of the British Olympic Association, also told reporters at the world athletics championships in Moscow that there would definitely be no boycott by the British team in Sochi. "I don't think [boycotts] achieve what they set out to do," he said. "They only damage one group of people, and that is the athletes. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, but not an issue that is one of a boycott."
But Coe, who won gold in the 1500m at the Moscow Olympics, said he believed sport brought people together and could lead to dramatic change. "I believe that coming to Moscow in 1980 was the right thing to do and 10 years later we saw those changes," he said. "International sport is not an inhibitor of social change, it actually has quite strong catalytic effects.
"I am a profound believer that the relationships developed through international sport are often in the infancy of social change."
Coe's stance was echoed by David Cameron, who said he shared the "deep concern" about the treatment of gay people in Russia but that it was right that the British team should compete at the Winter Olympics.
Addressing Fry directly on Twitter, the prime minister said: "Thank you for your note. I share your deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia. However, I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics."