"Star Trek" actor and gay rights advocate George Takei has signed an online petition to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, to Vancouver, Canada.
The petition, started by the organization Equality For All, has proposed Vancouver as an alternative to Sochi in light of Russia’s increasingly oppressive treatment of gays, both legally and culturally.
“Discrimination in any form is a blight upon the Winter Olympics, and it must not be tolerated,” wrote Takei on his blog. “Russia’s cynical and deplorable actions against the LGBT community have given license to hate groups within its borders to act with violence and impunity against a group, based solely on whom they were born to love.”
Russia’s crackdown on gay rights — which includes a prohibition on “propaganda” in support of “nontraditional” sexual orientation — has resulted in ever-louder calls for countries such as the United States to boycott the games. Meanwhile, other observers complain that sitting out not only would be a disservice to the athletes who have trained for years, but it also would fail to encourage a productive alternative that actively confronts Russia's treatment of gays.
According to Takei, the best option would be to move the Winter Olympics to Vancouver, which hosted the games in 2010.
“All of the facilities are still in good condition, so this would likely be the easiest of possible alternatives,” he wrote. “With enough support, maybe the [International Olympic Committee] and the sponsors will realize that this is a disaster in the making, and the best course is to move immediately and decisively to relocate the Winter Games of 2014.”
Since Monday, the number of signers for the petition has grown from 6,000 to well over 80,000. The target is 150,000 signatures.