Athletes Face Challenges in Speaking Out Against Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

The IOC and Russian officials have discouraged athletes from making political statements at the Olympics.

Activists participate at a protest against Russia's new law on gays, in central London, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013.
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He adds, "I don't believe the Russian government will make an issue out of it. I don't think there's going to be any kind of incident. But you never know."

[MORE: IOC Chief Receives Russian 'Assurance' Over Gays]

But traditional media spots and appearances are not the only places where athletes can make their views known. Twitter and other social media are becoming ever more popular outlets of self expression.

"With Twitter, I think it's going to be an open forum no matter what advice you get," says Lynn Lashbrook, a sports agents and president of Sports Management Worldwide.

"There are so many ways to convey the truth and still comply with rules," he says. "I don't see someone losing a medal over Twitter."

But aside from the athlete's personal concern, there's also the issue of what the controversy might mean for life in Russia. Some LGBT activists have been hesitant about getting involved in the Olympics, concerned that it will ultimately not help Russians who may be members of the LGBT community.

"There will be a ton of attention between now and January,and then everyone goes home, the lights go out, the cameras turn off and LGBT Russians are left to their own devices,"says Heather Cronk, the co-director of LGBT group Get Equal, which is working with LGBT groups in Russia. "Some LGBT groups, including Get Equal, are being really careful because of the blow back. When the cameras are shut off there's going to be a lot of people in danger."

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