Olympic Swedes ‘too Swedish’ for LGBT demo

Swedish artist Alexander Bard has called on his country's athletes to protest Russia's anti-LGBT laws during the winter olympics next year, but the Swedish Olympic Committee deem such a pro-gay rights move unlikely. The reason? Swedishness, as Steffen Daniel Meyer reports.

Olympic Swedes 'too Swedish' for LGBT demo

As Bard opened the 34th annual Stockholm Pride Festival earlier this week, he called on the Swedish sportsmen and women to either protest Russia’s LGBT rights record at the games, or stay at home.

Political statements have found their audience in the arena before – most famously in 1968 when US sprinter Tommie Smith won the 200-metre dash and climbed the medal podium with third-place John Carlos to raise their fists in the Black Power salute. Yet the Olympic Charter does forbid such acts.

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” reads chapter 50, paragraph 3 of the 103-page long “constitution” of the Olympic games.

Every athlete who competes in the Olympic Games signs a contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and thus has to follow these rules. But what if they don’t?

“They would most probably be disqualified,” Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Björn Folin told The Local.

While there is no fine, no jail, nor tar and feather, some observers would argue that being disqualified from the most important international sporting event in the world comes close to capital punishment for a top athlete.

Also, such an act might just be logistically unfeasible, Folin noted.

“There are people on the ground who check what the athletes are carrying,” he said.

He also deemed it highly unlikely that the Swedes would emulate the 1968 Black Power protest.

“I doubt it,” Folin said. “Because we Swedes usually stick to the rules.”

Steffen Daniel Meyer

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Swedish skier Frida Hansdotter to retire after World Cup

Olympic gold medalist Frida Hansdotter will retire after the World Cup finals in March, she announced on Wednesday.

Swedish skier Frida Hansdotter to retire after World Cup
Frida Hansdotter in February's World Cup in Hammarbybäcken. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The 33-year-old who denied Mikaela Shiffrin at the 2018 Games in South Korea has won three bronze and two silver world championship medals as well as a small globe in her preferred discipline since making her circuit debut as a teenager in 2004.

She finished in fifth place in the slalom and 11th in the giant slalom at February's world championships in Are.

“This season, I didn't feel the same hunger and motivation,” she said in a statement.

“The Olympic Games in Pyeongchang and the World Championship at home were my main objectives during the last seasons and I didn't want to think about what came afterwards,” she added.

“The last 15 years I travelled the world with skiing, pushing limits harder  then I ever thought was possible, achieving great things, met amazing people  on the way,” Hansdotter posted on Instagram.

“But it's time for me to say goodbye to the World Cup circuit and start a new chapter in life,” she added.

Her last race will be in Soldeu, Andorra between March 13th-17th as she looks to improve on her career best silver at Beaver Creek in 2015.