The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/21/13 at 11:57 AM ET
For those of you who'd been wondering whether the Russian Olympic orientation camp players will be willing to discuss Russia's anti-homosexuality laws, Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov asked Russian Hockey Federation spokesman Mikhail Zakharov about that topic, and while this is an incredibly rough translation of his response, you'll get his drift:
The Track and Field World Championships in Moscow became an arena for discussing the law prohibiting homosexual propaganda aong minors. Don't you worry that media representatives may exaggerate this topic? Will you recommend that hockey players avoid these questions?
"You know, that point's never been raised. And I don't think that the Olympic gathering needs to discuss this topic. Because there are more interesting subjects for the several months leading up to Sochi. You could talk about hockey, for example. From my point of view, it's not necessary to push sport into the background and pull political issues to the forefront. And who would initiate that kind of thing?"
A colleague from the Canadian broadcaster TSN just wrote, 'Do you think that they'd answer uestions about all the anti-gay laws that the Russian government's dealing with now?' That is: 'Do you think their players would comment on the laws adopted by the Russian government against gays?'"
"I can't deny that, for example, the Canadian press could ask Alexander Ovechkin about his attitude toward some laws. But I do know that Sasha's a man who understands things and would respond as he sees fit. Once again, we're confronted by the fact that, at the training camp of the national team, it's better to ask about hockey. It's like talking French in Nizhny Novogrod--the players won't understand."
In theory--though Zakharov suggests otherwise--the Russian players will be meeting with Vladimir Putin on Friday and will be made available to the media on Saturday, so we'll see how things play out.
Given the inherently political nature of the Russian hockey team, it's entirely possible that players may damage their chances of playing for the team if they address the topic in a frank and honest manner. I don't expect them to say anything definitive on the topic until they're on this side of the Atlantic.
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