Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has joined 26 other current and former Olympic, Paralympic and professional athletes in writing to the International Olympic Committee in a bid to stop Kazakhstan from hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics if the Central Asian nation does not drop its proposed anti-gay rights legislation.
The former Kazakh capital Almaty is battling it out with Beijing as the two final cities bidding for hosting rights, however, in February of this year, the Kazakh Senate passed a draft bill outlawing the promotion of “non-traditional sexual orientation” – legislation that mirrors Russia’s controversial anti-gay legislation.
In protesting this legislation, Navratilova and a host of top LGBT and ally athletes have sent a letter addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach requesting that the IOC uses its “unique position as the global leader in sport to communicate to the Kazakh authorities that no discriminatory legislation should be adopted or implemented.”
The letter reads: “In light of Kazakhstan’s aspirations to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and their recent consideration of legislation prohibiting ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation,’ we urge the IOC to reiterate to Kazakh authorities that discrimination with regard to sexual orientation is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement…
“We were extremely proud to see the leadership of the IOC amend Principle 6 of the Olympic charter to include sexual orientation and believe these changes in principles will strengthen the Olympic movement for generations to come. It is now time to call on Kazakhstan and any other country wishing to host the games, to put those principles into practice.”
The International Olympic Committee will announce the successful candidate in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.