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February 06, 2014

Ban Ki-moon Addresses the IOC in Sochi

By Simone Salvo

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the IOC before Friday’s Opening Ceremony in Sochi. His keynote address, the first by a UN secretary-general to the IOC’s general assembly, was made especially pertinent by the absence of many world leaders, who snubbed host President Vladimir Putin in protest of his policies.

Echoing his calls in November for an “Olympic Truce,” Ban made a poignant request to warring parties around the world to lay down their weapons for humanitarian relief to penetrate turbulent borders. And without explicitly mentioning Russia, he urged people to speak out against attacks on the LGBT community and to “oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions.”

The UN’s Free and Equal campaign affirms that professional athletes become bigger heroes when they denounce discrimination. “Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century,” Ban declared.

 

Olympian David Pichler is one of those heroes championing LGBT rights in Sochi right now as a part of the Human Rights First delegation. As Ban Ki-moon reminded the world that the Olympics are a time for unity, Pichler advised us to stay engaged in the struggle for LGBT rights long after the medals are awarded. In the Miami Herald, he writes, “When the Olympic flame is extinguished, American LGBT athletes will pack up and head home to their increasingly tolerant country. LGBT Russians will remain in a country that, left unchecked, might keep going in reverse.”