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10 August 2013updated 04 Oct 2023 9:55am

David Cameron to Stephen Fry: I won’t boycott the Winter Olympics

The prime minister responds to the suggestion that Russia's anti-gay laws mean Britain should refuse to take part in the Winter Olympics.

By Helen Lewis

David Cameron has refused calls for Britain to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia because of the country’s anti-gay laws. 

In a series of tweets, he said: 

Fry had earlier written that, in Russia: 

Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village.

The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma.

Several prominent gay athletes and commentators have welcomed Fry’s move, but disagreed with the idea of a boycott. The BBC’s Clare Balding said that she would attend:

“I’m pleased Stephen has raised the argument and I hope that his piece is read and debated at the highest levels. If the venue for the Winter Olympics remains as it is, I will be presenting from Sochi for the BBC. I will do so because I am a sports presenter who happens to be gay. I think the best way of enlightening societies that are not as open-minded as our own is not to be cowed into submission. I intend to stand proud, do my homework and do my job as well as I possibly can – as I would for any other sporting event.”

Skater Johnny Weir said that it was “not Russia’s public’s fault that their government is so bigoted” and therefore he would attend the Olympics. 

The Daily Mail responded to Fry’s blog with a feature entitled “What right has this smug luvvie to speak for the civilised world?” In it, Andrew Pierce asked: “Why do he and his luvvie friends think they can try to dictate which countries are appropriate to stage Olympic events and which are not? The problem with actors, of course, is that they think they are as clever as the lines they recite.”

Fry responded yesterday with a follow-up post:

The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything – large and small – from Picasso to equal pay for women.

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