Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the controversy of the Russian Propaganda Laws: is the IOC buckling under the pressure of its own incoherence in thought?

Abstract

The Sochi Winter Olympics were a triumph in the eyes of Russia and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Yet, a controversy around the introduction of anti-propaganda laws in Russia that had been criticised for being discriminatory marred the efforts of the IOC to fulfil its self-proclaimed aspiration of ‘encouraging the harmonious development of man’. This article discusses the controversy utilising a legally pluralist approach to sports governance, and providing a critical reading of the practices of neoliberal globalisation that marked the issue of sexuality at the Sochi games. The paper argues that the legal influence of the IOC on domestic and international legal norms is contradictory and inconsistent. This, when considered alongside the aspirations of the IOC is significantly problematic and demonstrates the importance of investigating the underlying power structures of this influential international governing body.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Bach (2013).

  2. 2.

    Collins (2005a).

  3. 3.

    Penner et al. (2005).

  4. 4.

    Travers (2009).

  5. 5.

    Lacey (1996).

  6. 6.

    Cotterrell (2002).

  7. 7.

    Travers (2010).

  8. 8.

    Tushnet (1991a).

  9. 9.

    Tushnet (1991b).

  10. 10.

    Collins (2005b).

  11. 11.

    Kelman (1987).

  12. 12.

    Ibid 12, 3.

  13. 13.

    Harvey (2005).

  14. 14.

    Herod (2009).

  15. 15.

    Kinsey (2008).

  16. 16.

    Biccum (2002).

  17. 17.

    Ibid 8, 173.

  18. 18.

    Lacey (1996).

  19. 19.

    Tamanaha (2008).

  20. 20.

    Kleinhaus and MacDonald (1997).

  21. 21.

    Davies (2005).

  22. 22.

    De Sousa Santos (1995).

  23. 23.

    Volstrikova (2012).

  24. 24.

    Van Luijk and Frisby (2012).

  25. 25.

    Ibid 20, 387.

  26. 26.

    Giulianatti and Robertson (2004).

  27. 27.

    Pendlebury and Semens (2011).

  28. 28.

    Amara and Theodoraki (2010).

  29. 29.

    Ibid 29, 154.

  30. 30.

    Ibid 25, 346–353.

  31. 31.

    Mecro Press (2012) and Ibid 44, 2.

  32. 32.

    Ibid 24.

  33. 33.

    Ibid 1.

  34. 34.

    Balderstone (2009).

  35. 35.

    International Olympic Committee (2013).

  36. 36.

    Moon (2009).

  37. 37.

    Ibid 35, 11, 12, 16.

  38. 38.

    Ibid 1 and Ibid 35, 172.

  39. 39.

    Pierre de Coubertin, quoted in Olympic (2012) http://www.olympic.org/Documents/IOC_Interim_and_Final_Reports/IOC_Report_2009-2012_Interactive_ENG_Sept13.pdf. Accessed 22 December 2013.

  40. 40.

    Coe (2009).

  41. 41.

    Ibid 41, 142.

  42. 42.

    Ostapenko (2010), 62.

  43. 43.

    Gauthier (2013), 9.

  44. 44.

    Sochi Candidate Book (2006).

  45. 45.

    Prokopets and Zhubrin (2012), 38.

  46. 46.

    Tyagachev (2009).

  47. 47.

    Chenyshecko (2014).

  48. 48.

    Grekov (2013).

  49. 49.

    Local Government Act (1988).

  50. 50.

    Cooper and Herman (1991), Monk D (1998).

  51. 51.

    Johanson (2014) and Ibid 44, 11.

  52. 52.

    Mills (2013).

  53. 53.

    Smith (2013).

  54. 54.

    Worden (2013).

  55. 55.

    Ibid 35, 11, 12, 16.

  56. 56.

    Ibid 44, 11 and 12.

  57. 57.

    Gibson (2013).

  58. 58.

    Digel (2009), 269.

  59. 59.

    ESPN (2013).

  60. 60.

    Ibid 13, 6.

  61. 61.

    Ibid 13, 6.

  62. 62.

    Pound (2009), 244.

  63. 63.

    Jones (2014).

  64. 64.

    IOC (2014).

  65. 65.

    Terlep (2014).

  66. 66.

    Ibid 63.

  67. 67.

    Sky News Online (2014).

  68. 68.

    Gibson and Walker (2014).

  69. 69.

    Wolff (2014).

References

  1. Amara M, Theodoraki E (2010) Transnational network formation through sports related regional development projects in the Arabian Peninsula’. Int J Sport Policy Politics 135

  2. Bach T (2013) Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympics Ideal (Olympic 2013). http://www.olympic.org/Documents/IOC_President/2013-11-6_Speech_IOC_President_Bach-Olympic_Truce_adoption_Speech_4_November.pdf. Accessed 20 Dec 2013

  3. Balderstone S (2009) Olympic values: dead, under threat or under cover. Olympic Congress 171

  4. Biccum A (2002) Interrupting the discourse and development: on a collision course with postcolonial theory. Culture Theory Critique 33

  5. Chenyshecko D (2014) The Olympic games impact- summary report’ (Sochi 2014 2013). http://sochi2014.blob.core.windows.net/storage/games/strategy/OGI%20Digest_Eng_fin.pdf. Accessed 3 Jan 2014

  6. Coe S (2009) Why the World needs the Olympic and Paralympic Games more than ever. Olympic Congress 141

  7. Collins H (2005a) Law as politics: progressive American perspectives. In: Schiff P, Nobles (eds) Jurisprudence and legal theory: commentary and materials, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 289

  8. Collins H (2005b) Law as politics: progressive American perspectives. In: Schiff P, Nobles (eds) Jurisprudence and legal theory: commentary and materials, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 303

  9. Cooper D, Herman D (1991) Getting “The Family Right”: Legislating Heterosexuality in Britain 1986–1991, Can J Fam Law 10:41–78

  10. Cotterrell R (2002) Subverting orthodoxy, making law central: a view of sociolegal studies. J Law Soc 632

  11. Davies M (2005) The Ethos of Pluralism. Syd Law Rev 87:89–103

    Google Scholar 

  12. De Sousa Santos B (1995) Toward a new common sense: law, science and politics in the paradigmatic transition, 1st edn. Routledge, London, p 399

  13. Digel H (2009) The politics of the Olympic Games. Olympic Congress 269

  14. Eeklaar J (2014) Perceptions of equality: the road to same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Int J Law Policy Family 1

  15. ESPN (2013) Thomas Bach elected IOC President (ESPN 2013). http://espn.go.com/olympics/story/_/id/9658153/germany-thomas-bach-elected-international-olympic-committee-president. Accessed 5 Jan 2014

  16. Gauthier R (2013) Major event legislation: lessons from London and looking forward. Int Sports Law J 1

  17. Gibson O (2013) IOC gives Sochi seal of approval for Russia’s Winter Olympics. http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/sep/26/ioc-sochi-russia-winter-olympics. Accessed 26 Nov 2013

  18. Gibson O, Walker (2014) Olympians urge Russia to reconsider ‘gay propaganda’ laws’ (The Guardian 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/jan/30/olympic-athletes-russia-repeal-anti-gay-laws. Accessed 20 April 2014

  19. Giulianatti R, Robertson R (2004) The Globalizatioj of football: a study in the glocalization of the ‘serious life’. Br J Sociol 545

  20. Grekov I (2013) Russia’s Anti-Gay Law, spelled out in Putin English (Policy Mic 2013). http://www.policymic.com/articles/58649/russia-s-anti-gay-law-spelled-out-in-plain-english. Accessed 5 Jan 2014

  21. Harvey D (2005) A brief history of neoliberalism, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  22. Herod A (2009) Geographies of globalization, 1st edn. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  23. International Olympic Committee (2013) The Olympic Charter, 1st edn. DidWeDo S.a.r.l, Lausanne

    Google Scholar 

  24. International Olympic Committee (2014) Attention turns to Sochi 2014 legacies (IOC 2014). http://www.olympic.org/news/attention-turns-to-sochi-2014-legacies/226396. Accessed 20 March 2014

  25. Johanson M (2014) Sochi 2014 Olympics unsafe for LGBT community under Russia’s anti-gay law activists warn (International Business Times 2013). http://www.ibtimes.com/sochi-2014-olympics-unsafe-lgbt-community-under-russias-anti-gay-law-activists-warn-1334223. Accessed 3 Jan 2014

  26. Jones I (2014) IOC President Says Thank you to Sochi (IOC 2014). http://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-president-says-thank-you-to-sochi/226246. Accessed 20 March 2014

  27. Kelman M (1987) A guide to critical legal studies, 1st edn. Harvard University Press, London

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kinsey A-D (2008) Globalisation and National Sovereignty: From Migration to Trafficking. In: Cameron S, Newman E (eds) Trafficking in Humans: Social, Cultural and Political dimensions, 1st edn. UN University Press, New York, p 63

  29. Kleinhaus M, MacDonald R (1997) What is critical legal pluralism. Can J Law Soc 25:30–32

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lacey N (1996) Normative reconstruction in socio-legal theory. Soc Legal Stud 131

  31. Local Government Act (1988) s. 28. Repealed by the Local Government Act 2003, s. 122

  32. Mecro Press (2012) Mecro Press, FIFA tells Brazil beer must be sold at the 2014 World Cup matches (Mecro Press 2012). http://en.mercopress.com/2012/01/19/fifa-tells-brazil-beer-must-be-sold-at-the-2014-world-cup-matches. Accessed 8 Jan 2014

  33. Mills L (2013) IOC says it’s ‘fully satisfied’ that Russia’s anti-gay law doesn’t violate the Olympic Charter (Huffington Post 2013). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/26/ioc-sochi-olympics-russia-anti-gay-law_n_3994761.html. Accessed 4 Jan 2014

  34. Monk D (1998) Beyond Sect. 28: Law, governance and sex education. In: Moran L, Monk D, Beresford S (eds) Legal Queeries. Cassell, London, pp 96–112

  35. Moon B (2009) Keynote Speech at the Olympic Congress, Copenhagen, 2009, available at, Ban Ki Moon, ‘Keynote Speech at the Olympic Congress’ (Olympic 2009). http://www.olympic.org/Assets/XIII%20OLYMPIC%20CONGRESS/PDF/ACTES_OUVERTURE/KI-MOON_BAN_ENG.pdf. Accessed 20 Dec 2013

  36. Olympic (2012) Building a legacy through sport, IOC final report 2009–2012 (Olympic 2012)

  37. Ostapenko N (2010) Nation branding though the Sochi Olympic Games 2014. J Manage Policy Pract 60

  38. Pendlebury A, Semens A (2011) Sport governing bodies and leveraging power: what is the appropriate governance model. Int J Sports Law 135

  39. Penner J, Schiff D, Nobles R (2005) Approaches to jurisprudence, legal theory and the philosophy of law. In: Penner J, Schiff D, Nobles R (eds) Jurisprudence and legal theory: commentary and materials, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  40. Pound R (2009) Eurocentricity within the Olympic movement. Olympic Congress 244

  41. Prokopets M, Zhubrin D (2012) legal regulation of organization and holding the Olympic Games in the Russian Federation’. Int Sports Law J 37

  42. Sky News Online (2014) Sochi: Google Doodle Tackles Anti- Gay Law (Sky News 2014). http://news.sky.com/story/1207915/sochi-google-doodle-tackles-anti-gay-law. Accessed 20 March 2014

  43. Smith L (2013) Why Russia’s Sochi Olympics are now a battleground for gay right (CNN 2013). http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/10/world/europe/russia-gay-rights-controversy/. Accessed 4 Jan 2014

  44. Sochi Candidate Book (2006) Legal aspects (Olympic 2006). http://web.archive.org/web/20071025092713/http://sochi2014.com/sochidwnld/bid_book/Book%201/Theme%203/Theme%203%20sprds.pdf. Accessed 2 Jan 2014

  45. Tamanaha B (2008) Understanding legal pluralisn: past to present, local to global. Syd Law Rev 375:396

    Google Scholar 

  46. Terlep S (2014) At Sochi, Athletes’ Criticism of Russia’s Antigay Laws Grew Quieter (Wall Street Journal 2014). http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303880604579400691299231818. Accessed 20 March 2014

  47. Travers M (2009) Understanding law and society, 1st edn. Routledge, Oxon

  48. Travers M (2010) Understanding law and society, 1st edn. Routledge, Oxon, pp 72, 75

  49. Tushnet M (1991a) Critical legal studies: a political history. Yale Law J 1515, 1532

  50. Tushnet M (1991b) Critical legal studies: a political history. Yale Law J 5, 137, 138

  51. Tyagachev L (2009) Russian Olympic Committee—Cooperation between the Olympic movement and state bodies: the working Russian Model. Olympic Congress 292

  52. Van Luijk N, Frisby W (2012) (Re)Framing of protest at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Int J Sport Policy Politics 343

  53. Volstrikova E (2012) Norms adopted by international sport organizations as a special type of international custom. Int J Sports Law 104

  54. Wolff A (2014) Anti- gay demonstration reveals double-standard in Sochi (Sports Illustrated 2014). http://olympics.si.com/olympics/2014/02/07/anti-gay-demonstration-sochi-olympics-protest. Accessed 20 March 2014

  55. Worden M (2013) Russia’s Anti-gay law threatens the Olympics character (Human Rights Watch 2013). http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/11/23/russia-s-anti-gay-laws-threaten-olympics-character. Accessed 3 Jan 2014

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Verity Postlethwaite.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Postlethwaite, V. Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the controversy of the Russian Propaganda Laws: is the IOC buckling under the pressure of its own incoherence in thought?. Int Sports Law J 14, 264–274 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40318-014-0059-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Olympics
  • Power structures
  • Neoliberal
  • Globalisation
  • Sexuality