Boy, nothing says gesture politics – if I were less Jane Austenian, I would say F--- you politics – quite like skipping a major event, and when the event is the Olympics, well, the gesture is big-time.
So President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will not be going to Sochi in a diss to anti-gay Russian prez Vladimir “Rootin’ Tootin’” Putin. Obama has also appointed Billie Jean King and two-time ice hockey Olympian Caitlin Cahow, both openly gay, as U.S. representatives to the games to underscore his point.
Some say there’s no place for politics in sports. Perhaps, but it’s there. Else why would the International Olympic Committee have chosen Vladdie’s favorite summer resort – yes, a place with palm trees – for the Winter Olympics. (L.A., I think it’s time to put in another bid.)
The games men – and women – play mirror the games nations play, as the four main characters in my forthcoming novel, “Water Music,” discover at Summer Olympics in Venice and later New York.
Anyone who doesn’t think so has obviously never seen a figure skating competition. Remember how at the Vancouver Games, Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko stepped on the top of the podium before taking his silver-medal place in disgust over the gold going to American Evan Lysacek? Then the next day Russian commentators suggested Lysacek’s performance was less than manly. And this in 2010, 20 years after the end of the Boris Badenov old days of the Cold War.
Still the frisson remains.
Look for more on my take of the “games” Russia and the U.S. have played in the January “Super” Power issue of WAG, the magazine I edit. You’ll find it Jan. 1 at wagmag.com.