Last week, the International Olympic Committee adopted new standards for host cities, explicitly banning discrimination following the sustained public outcry over anti-gay laws passed in Russia before last winter’s games. But if you were following the news in Russia, you wouldn’t know, because no one is covering it.
The changes come in the form of a broad non-discrimination contract based on Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter and are effective with the 2022 winter games. According to the Associated Press, the agreement requires that cities “conduct all activities in a manner which promotes and enhances the fundamental principles and values of Olympism, in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise, as well as the development of the Olympic Movement.”
Although sexual orientation is not referenced specifically, the move comes right after the IOC came under fire from international gay rights groups for allowing the 2014 Winter Olympics to take place in Russia despite the country’s ban on what it called “gay propaganda.” That’s why, if you do a search for “International Olympic Committee” right now, you’ll find dozens of articles referencing the Sochi controversy.
And if you repeat the search in Russian? Not so much.
That’s not to say that Russian media isn’t covering the International Olympic Committee: Many recent stories note the possible inclusion of synchronized figure skating in the games, Russian Alexander Zhukov’s job leading the 2022 Games host city selection committee, and the U.N. Human Rights Council’s adoption of a Russian-introduced resolution on “promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal.”
But the non-discrimination change? Not at all. Intelligencer turned up just one four-paragraph wire story referencing “discrimination” in Russian, with no mention of Sochi or the controversy. (Another mention was buried in a digest culled from English-language news sites.)
Instead, the country’s closely monitored news sources used the newly adopted U.N. resolution to spout off about how boycotts are counterproductive and go against the Olympic ideal. Because in Russia, what you don’t talk about didn’t happen.