Survey Says: Don’t Boycott Sochi, but Don’t Put Gay Athletes in the Closet

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Aug. 28 2013 12:25 PM

Survey Says: Don’t Boycott Sochi, but Don’t Put Gay Athletes in the Closet

When Russia passed a law banning “homosexual propaganda,” the call went out to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic Games due to be held in Sochi. But judging from a survey of 400 Americans our partners at SurveyMonkey ran using SurveyMonkey Audience, there’s little support for staying home next February.  

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When asked if the U.S. team should boycott the 2014 Sochi games, 22 percent of respondents said yes. But when the question was whether the U.S. would boycott, only 2 percent thought such a turn of events extremely likely, while 4 percent thought it quite likely. A whopping 45 percent thought a boycott “not at all likely.”

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Will Russia’s homophobic law affect Americans’ plans to attend the 2014 Olympics or to watch on television? For 81 percent of respondents, the law has made no difference to their plans to travel to Sochi, while 15 percent said they were slightly or much less likely to attend. When it comes to armchair activism, however, 26 percent said they were slightly or much less likely to watch the games on television.

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While most respondents said Nyet to a boycott and reported that events in Russia hadn’t affected their intention to watch the games, they do support gay athletes’ freedom of expression. A full 70 percent deemed it “not at all reasonable” for the IOC to ask gay and lesbian athletes to conceal their sexuality during the games, while only 6 percent found such a proposition “extremely reasonable.” In other words, they’d be happy to see the rainbow flag flying alongside the IOC’s five rings.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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