October 23 - A social media campaign called @RainbowSochi has launched a petition calling on the five major sponsors of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to insist rainbow flags be incorporated into the uniforms of all athletes competing at Sochi 2014 in protest at anti-gay legislation introduced in Russia earlier this year.
The @RainbowSochi campaign is urging COC sponsors Hudson's Bay Company, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Tire, Bell Canada Enterprises and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to insist on the rainbow flag being made clearly visible on the uniforms.
It claims it would signal Canadians' commitment to human rights and be a protest at the anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) legislation signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June.
The controversial legislation, which has sparked widespread criticism from around the world leading to calls for athletes and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to boycott the Games, bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors in Russia.
It also prevents gay couples from adopting children, while also outlawing gay pride rallies and proposing penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media.
Despite assurances from Putin that the Russian authorities will not allow any form of discrimination against homosexual athletes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, there have even been calls for the Games to be moved to previous 2010 host city Vancouver.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has resisted such claims and claimed it has received written assurances from the Kremlin that the new laws will not be applied to athletes during the event.
The founder of the @RainbowSochi petition, Howard Goodman, believes the issue is more than just about the athletes themselves, but it is an attack on basic human rights, citing the example of the 1936 Berlin Games held in Nazi controlled Germany.
"Seventy-six years ago the Olympics were held in a country that a year earlier had removed basic rights from an already marginalised and vulnerable group," said Goodman.
"At the time the world celebrated the athletics, but ignored the loss of human rights without making any protest.
"The 1936 Games were held in Berlin, and presided over by Adolph Hitler.
"To our shame we failed to stand up for human rights at the 1936 Berlin Games.
"As a nation we must not again fail at Sochi 2014."
High jumper Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Moa Hjelmer were warned by the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) to respect the rules after they painted their nails in rainbow colours in what they called a "silent protest" at the anti-gay laws, during the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Athletics World Championships in Moscow back in August.
That led Russian world pole vault champion and double Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva to criticise the actions of the Swedish athletes labelling them disrespectful and coming out in support of the Russian Government.
However, the 31-year-old, who is Mayor of the Olympic Village at Sochi 2014, later backtracked on her comments claiming they were "misunderstood".
Mexico 1968 200 metre champion Tommie Smith, who famously performed the Black Power salute on the medal podium along with compatriot and bronze medal winner John Carlos in support of the civil rights movement in America at the time, has said that it is down to individual athletes' own choice whether to protest or not in Sochi.
Goodman is urging all Canadians to sign up to the petition and those who may be customers, employees, audience members or investors with any of the major COC sponsors to email them explaining that they want the sponsors to put protection of human rights at least on par with commercial interests.
"Every time one of our athletes competes, every time one of our athletes wins a medal, let the world, including Russians, see that Canadians support human rights," he said.
"What would have happened if the athletes of even a single country had worn a Star of David [Jewish symbol] or a pink triangle at the Berlin1936 Games?
"What can happen if Canadians lead the way and wear rainbow flags at Sochi2014?"
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October 2013: USOC adds sexual orientation to non-discrimination policy ahead of Sochi 2014
September 2013: Athletes got to make their own minds up about Russian anti-gay law, says Black Power salute sprinter Smith
August 2013: Respect the rules at Sochi 2014, warns Swedish Olympic Committee following rainbow nails "protest"
August 2013: Isinbayeva claims anti-gay remarks were "misunderstood"