Sochi Olympics: Brian Burke takes on Russia’s anti-gay laws

Director of player personnel for the U.S. Olympic hockey team, Brian Burke, has strongly criticized Russia's anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
(Galit Rodan / Associated Press)
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Brian Burke has approached a situation with potential international implications the only way he knows how.


You would not expect anything less from the longtime hockey executive. The former Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager returned to the Anaheim Ducks fold last season, signing on as a consultant. Burke was the Ducks GM when they won the Stanley Cup in 2007.

He also is director of player personnel for the U.S. Olympic hockey team and has strongly criticized Russia’s “archaic” anti-gay laws. His son Patrick, now the NHL’s director of player safety, was the co-founder of the You Can Play project, and Brian serves on its advisory board.


The organization was founded in honor of the late Brendan Burke, who came out to his family members in 2007. Brendan Burke died in an automobile accident in 2010.

Brian Burke made extended comments about Russia’s anti-gay laws to Canada’s cable network TSN last week and to at the just-completed U.S. Olympic hockey camp in Arlington. Va.

And he has penned a powerful personal offering on the issue in Sports Illustrated. His essay appears in this week’s magazine in the back page “Point After” slot. Burke’s column does not support a boycott of the Sochi Olympics, concluding:

“The pressure to do what’s right shouldn’t end with the closing ceremony. The IOC, USOC and each sport’s governing bodies should refuse to stage international competitions in Russia until these outrageous laws are repealed. That is the boycott I’m calling for.

“Russia has made the organization founded in honor of my son illegal, and it has attempted to silence our family. We refuse to recognize its right to do so. The cruel and misguided legislation will fail -- laws based on ignorance, bias and bigotry always do. But until they are repealed, the LGBT citizens of Russia will suffer horribly. It’s time for all of us to stand in support of them.”



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