Olympian Johnny Weir Says Russian Olympic Boycott Is Misguided

Thursday, August 01, 2013

U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir said he opposes boycotts to protest Russia's new anti-gay law because it hurts athletes and ordinary people.   

Gay rights advocates are pushing for a boycott Russian products such as vodka and are considering calling for a boycott against the 2014 Winter Olympics set to take place in Sochi, Russia.

But in his regular column for The Falls Church News-Press, Weir implores gay athletes to go to the Olympics and "dazzle the world." He told WNYC that boycotting the Olympics is an ineffective way of changing Russian policy. He said he hopes his presence in the country will be a sign of support for gays and lesbians in Russia.  

"Should I be arrested, should my life be threatened, I know I'll be there for a purpose," he told WNYC. 

Weir married his husband, who is of Russian descent, in New York on New Year's Eve 2011.

"I've never thought of the Olympics as a political statement," Weir said. "I really think a boycott ... is in the wrong as far as the athletes are concerned." 

To hear Host Amy Eddings' full conversation with Johnny Weir, click on the audio above.


Johnny Weir

Hosted by:

Amy Eddings

Produced by:

Tracie Hunte and Christine Streich


More in:

Comments [8]

Ashley Garbutt from Canada

"At first I was torn boycott and protest. One of the greatest moments in sports history was Jesse Owens winning multiple medals at the 1936 Olympics in Germany, beating Hitler's perfect "Aryans." Gay athletes and allies identifying themselves as such and wearing insignia (it would be cool if that button or patch was uniform and easily identifiable) and competing, FORCING the media to comment on it might be very effective."

I think the groups who support Russia's new Anti-Gay law would WANT LGBT and supporters to not attend. Instead, we must fight for our rights BY attending. Please fight alongside with our athletes; give them the right to compete in the Olympics, but wear a rainbow pin to show that we do NOT agree with this law.

Aug. 30 2013 11:07 AM
Krell67 from Seattle

Johnny Weir is the one who's misguided. Doing the right thing to advance human rights sometimes requires sacrifice -- and in this case it means sacrificing your years of training and the chance for glory, because refusing to legitimize an oppressive regime by attending their event is about a billion times more important than competing in a sporting event.

If LGBT athletes go to Russia and compete it shows the world that what Russia is doing isn't important enough to care about. It was a huge mistake in 1936 with Hitler, and it's a huge mistake now. Johnny, it's time to stand-up and do the right thing for humanity even if it means you don't get to compete.

Aug. 13 2013 11:05 PM
Margarete from New Orleans, Louisiana

First of all, what makes Johnny Weir so sure he'll qualify to go to Sochi when he's hardly been training and hasn't skated seriously for years? Does he think he'll be chosen by the judges, and will even win the gold, as a political in-your-face spite move against Russia? He's confident he'll emerge a modern-day hero and it'll make him the most famous, sought-after celebrity in the world, is he? Well, it might not happen that way. He'll learn the hard way that this is not the U.S. he's dealing with. It is an authoritarian-run land that is not a free country, so you don't mess around, thinking you're going to defy their laws and get away with it. I hope he is chosen neither as an athlete nor an announcer, but is kept the hell away from there. The last thing we need is World War III starting over the Russians throwing Johnny Weir in jail and refusing to release him.

Aug. 06 2013 06:31 AM
DrRandy from Yonkers NY

I hope Johnny realizes that if he acknowledges his husband in any way, shape or form in the presence of children (virtual or actual), he will be in violation of this draconian law, and will subject to arrest. If Victor is present, they will both be arrested.

I am woefully disappointed in my (formerly) favorite figure skater.

Aug. 02 2013 10:33 PM
Kent from Hell's Kitchen

Out Olympic athletes, should go and compete , the way African American and American Jewish athletes competed in Nazi Germany. Let Putin and his homophobe minions squirm in the stands while the dedicated LGBTQ athletes and their allies bask in glory on the winner's podium.

Aug. 02 2013 12:16 AM
kelli Busey from Forth Worth Texas

Weir described the boycott as "Selfish and self serving" giving the reason for this sentiment because hes a athlete who's dedicated his entire life training to compete.

The reason LGBT people are advocating for a global boycott is that Russia under Putin is beating our people, silencing them with laws and ultimately ostracizing them forcing even more horrendous conditions on them.

Sorry if all this blood, imprisonment and murder is getting in the way of Weirs athletic ambitions.

Aug. 01 2013 11:46 PM
Matt from usa

Johnny will change his mind when he gets arrested in Russia

Aug. 01 2013 09:33 PM
Tony from UWS

AMY- Being gay is NOT a life style.!

Aug. 01 2013 06:29 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by