“I think the Russians would love it if we boycotted,” said Holcomb, who is seeking his third Olympic berth. “It’d be more medals for them. They’d be excited and happy: ‘Hey, Steve Holcomb isn’t showing up for the Games? Perfect! Another two more bobsled medals for us! Great.’
“I think we should show up — pardon my French — and kick their [butt] and take names and go from there. That’d be such a bigger statement, in my mind.”
This is hardly the first generation of Olympians preparing to compete against a politically charged backdrop. The Olympic Charter prohibits athletes from making political statement at the site of the Games, but its ban doesn’t extend beyond that.
Miller argued that politics and sports have been intertwined for ages. Pretending otherwise made no sense, in his view, nor did demanding that athletes muzzle their views.
“I think asking an athlete to go somewhere and compete and be a representative of a philosophy of all that different crap that goes along with it and tell them they can’t express their views or can’t say what they believe — I think it’s pretty hypocritical and unfair,” Miller said.
Elana Meyers, a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist in bobsled and a former softball player at George Washington University, said her chief concern is for the safety of U.S. Olympians during their time in Sochi. Beyond that, Meyers said she felt it was more important that the United States make progress on the issue than Russia.
“I love this country; I love every minute being a citizen. I think we have the greatest country in the world,” said Meyers, 28. “But we do have a lot of problems with [ensuring the rights of] our gay and lesbian and transgender community. A third of the states in this country don’t have laws against discrimination of gay and transgender people. There are still states in this country that they can’t get married.
“I think we really, as a country, need to focus on where we stand as far as gay, transgender and lesbian issues. Whatever Russia decides to do, I think that’s an afterthought.”