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April 15, 2014

Congressional Letter to the IOC about Principle 6

Members of Congress sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging them to amend the Olympic Charter's nondiscrimination clause, Principle 6, to include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

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April 15, 2014

Mr. Thomas Bach
President
International Olympic Committee
Chateau de Vidy
Case postale 356
1001 Lausanne
Switzerland
 

Dear President Bach:

As Members of the United States Congress with great respect for the mission and objective of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Olympic Games), we write to affirm our support for the Fundamental Principles of Olympism and respectfully request that you amend Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We applaud the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Games for their many successes, to date, in promoting peace through sport. The Olympic Games are unparalleled in their ability to bring together people of various cultures and backgrounds. In particular, Fundamental Principle of Olympism Number 6 explicitly prohibits “[a]ny form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.” Like you, we understand the necessity of compassion and non-discrimination in order to build a peaceful and better world.

As you know, prior to and during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this year, we expressed our concerns over Russia’s discriminatory laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. We wrote asking you to make clear that the violation of basic human rights should never be a backdrop for athletic achievement and should never desecrate the unifying spirit of diversity that lives at the very heart of the Olympic Games. 

We encourage the IOC to continue being a leader in the promotion of tolerance, non-discrimination, and cultural exchange. The Olympic Games will not be truly free from discrimination unless the IOC acknowledges and repudiates oppression of all kind. At your meeting in Monaco this December, the IOC will have a chance to further its commitment to the ideals of human rights and the fellowship of sport. We respectfully ask the IOC to follow the example set by the United States Olympic Committee and explicitly include the LGBT community. 

While we understand that politics are not a component of the Olympic Games, we believe amending Principle 6 to further uphold ideals of non-discrimination will illustrate how the Olympic Games achieve their fundamental principle of “plac[ing] sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind,” and assure the world that the heart of the Olympic spirit has been and always will be the athletes, no matter who they are. No matter the color of their skin, the faith to which they adhere, or who they love.

Sincerely,

David N. Cicilline, member of Congress

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, member of Congress

Michael H. Michaud, member of Congress

Mark Takano, member of Congress

Mark Pocan, member of Congress

Adam B. Schiff, member of Congress

Raul M. Grijalva, member of Congress

Michael M. Honda, member of Congress

James P. Moran, member of Congress

Zoe Lofgren, member of Congress

Yvette D. Clarke, member of Congress

Henry A. Waxman, member of Congress

Janice D. Schakowsky, member of Congress

Steve Israel, member of Congress

Jackie Speier, member of Congress

Ann McLane Kuster, member of Congress

Peter Welch, member of Congress

Joseph Crowley, member of Congress

Eleanor Holmes Norton, member of Congress