Figure skater Johnny Weir will not be competing in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. According to the Associated Press, Weir did not register for the qualifying competition for the national championships, which is how the U.S. figure skating team is chosen.
Weir’s camp has yet to issue a statement regarding the decision not to register for the competition by the Sep. 1 deadline. The openly gay skater has taken heat in recent weeks for his defiant stance against a U.S. boycott of the Sochi games due to Russia’s draconian anti-LGBT laws.
In an interview with Keith Olbermann last week, Weir said that nothing would keep him from competing at Sochi, that it is more important for LGBT athletes to go to the games and “show Putin what we’re about.”
“Before a gay man, before a white man, I am an Olympian,” Weir said. “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.”
Weir was roundly condemned by LGBT activists for wearing a Russian military uniform to the interview. Michael Lucas wrote at Out.com that the interview was “a disgusting 10 minutes to watch.”
“(L)et’s notice what Weir is wearing in this interview,” Lucas fumed. “It is a Russian military uniform: the symbol of the same Russian government oppression that is currently being brought to bear against gay people in Russia, through Putin-approved laws against ‘gay propaganda’ and foreign adoption by people from gay-friendly countries. And that repression is only getting worse: New legislation has been introduced in the Russian parliament to take gay people’s children away.”
Weir is hugely popular in Russia, calling it his “adopted country.” His partner is Russian and, in spite of the anti-LGBT laws and prevailing homophobia in the former Soviet republic, Weir enjoys a comfortable, profitable position in the country as a commentator and media figure.
The AP raised the question that, at 29, perhaps Weir had decided that he is aging out of the world of competitive, professional skating “and the sport has only gotten more demanding since the last Olympics. The top men in the world are now packing their free skates with three quads, and the time and training required to perfect those four-revolution jumps can take a toll.”
Weir, said the AP, has “a budding design career” to fall back on and “would be a natural fit for broadcasting. He’s always been delightfully refreshing, on and off the ice.”
[image of Johnny Weir and partner Victor Voronov via Shutterstock.com]