Figure skater Johnny Weir won’t be competing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi after failing to register for the national championships – an event which selects the US 2014 team.
The 29-year-old from Pennsylvania has been a leading proponent against boycotting the Russian Games. Many in the LGBT community believe there is a case to do so following the Russian Parliament’s decision in June to pass censorship laws banning gay “propaganda”.
Speaking of his hopes at competing in the Games last week, Weir said: “I am directly against a boycott of any kind. While many people can sit on their couch at home and say ‘Oh, we shouldn’t go to Russia because it’s bad’ — staying away is something I think is the worst possible thing we can do.”
The three-time US national champion, who previously called himself a “hardcore Russophile,” added that although he is openly gay, he considers himself an athlete first.
He said: “Before a gay man, before a white man, I am an Olympian. That’s what I worked for from age 12 and a boycott would negate all of that. It would basically punish all of the non-LGBT athletes that would be on the US Olympic team for Sochi.
“Even if we stay away, Russia will still put on an Olympics, they will win all of the medals and it will be even more of a propaganda machine for Russia.”
Weir competed at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics but was considered a long shot to make the US team in 2014.
The nationals begin on 9 January in Boston and Weir would have had to perform strongly in them to qualify for a third Olympics. He finished sixth at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.