As Ryan Lambert pointed out quite caustically this morning, Swedish Olympic goalie Henrik Lundqvist had an opportunity to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws and ducked the question, desiring to keep the Games free of politics despite its history to the contrary.
Larry Brooks of the NY Post caught up with Lundqvist at an informal skate for New York Rangers players on Monday and asked him about the backlash.
Lundqvist’s response? Of course he’s against the Russian laws as a supporter of You Can Play.
But please, keep your human rights issues out of his hockey tournament.
“The reason I didn’t say anything last week is because we had talked right before that with the Swedish Olympic Federation about the importance of keeping the focus of the Olympics on the games and sports,” said the goaltender, who returned to New York from Sweden on Sunday.
“I agree with that. It’s important that the Olympics don’t become a political place. Every country has its own issues. The history of the Olympics shows that each [site] has had some serious issues.”
… “Of course as a private person, I will express my support for equal rights and my opposition to laws that go against that. I think I can use my position to do some good, but the time and the place have to be right.”
Look, I’m not going to sit here and ask Henrik Lundqvist to be a human rights crusader … except he’s already volunteered to be a human rights crusader by supporting You Can Play. You’re either in the fight or you’re not; picking and choosing the venue for discourse and protest makes his commitment seem obligatory rather than heartfelt. Especially considering the deplorable nature of Russia's crackdown.
But the bigger issue: The Olympics are inherently political. At every turn. From the rivalries to the gender issues to the gripes about the host cities. The athletes are shielded from this as best can be expected, but what a Pollyanna world view from Hank on this one?