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George Takei's fans divided over call to move Sochi Olympics to Vancouver

George Takei, the activist, actor, and the former Mr. Sulu from Star Trek, is a vocal proponent of LGBT rights. (Wong Maye/Associated Press)

George Takei's call to move next year's Winter Olympics out of the host city Sochi, Russia -- possibly to Vancouver -- has been met with both support for the intention but also skepticism about its feasibility.

Takei, best known as helmsman Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek television series, is calling for the Games to move to Vancouver from Sochi to protest Russia's anti-gay laws.

He also called on his thousands of followers on Twitter to weigh in on the matter.

The petition has so far gathered more than 94,000 signatures of support.

In an interview with CBC Radio's As It Happens, Takei responded with skepticism to reports that Vancouver officials say the city could not possibly organize a second Olympics in enough time.

"That attitude is essentially supporting the Russian position," he told CBC's Laura Lynch. "If there is not enough time, then the Winter Olympics can be delayed a year." He continued by saying that since Vancouver already has the infrastructure and buildings from the 2010 Olympics, it would be easier to move the Games there compared to a city without any.

Takei's post to his blog on Facebook received more than 37,000 likes, 10,000 shares and 3,600 comments although it should be said that this isn't particularly uncommon for Takei given his overwhelming presence and fandom on social media.

Many fans of Takei's Twitter and Facebook pages supported the suggestion. However, even among those who liked the idea believed that moving the entire Winter Games to another location would prove too difficult.

"I agree with @GeorgeTakei & @stephenfry but logistics and politics of moving @Sochi2014 make it extremely unlikely," tweeted Matthew Lumby.

Reaction among the thousands of comments on Takei's Facebook page was just as mixed.

  • "You cannot pull funding from the Olympics from Russia this late in the game. This discussion should have happened months ago. As a Vancouverite we cannot handle another games, our city has no business holding another, especially with just a few months notice. Switching the games now would be unfair to too many people," wrote Jen Weldon.
  • "Infrastructure is not the only issue. There are so many other issues that would have to be dealt with which is why the host city is chosen so far in advance. Logistically, moving the games is an impossibility at this point. I wish it were otherwise but it is not," wrote Linda Kingsbury.
  • "Yes, move them. The Olympics are about tolerance and understanding; and what the Russians are doing to the LGBT community is the exact opposite of that," wrote Gareth Au.

Takei isn't the only celebrity to attach his name to the petition: U.K. actor Stephen Fry also endorsed it.

English bobsledder Craig Pickering replied to Stephen Fry's tweet, explaining from his perspective the logistical problems of why a late move for the Olympics would cause problems for the athletes not only in terms of logistics but also for the safety of some of the events.

Hi Stephen -- whilst I appreciate the sentiment of this petition, moving the Winter Olympics to Vancouver is potentially unsafe," wrote Pickering.

"The rules of my sport (bobsleigh) state that athletes must have sufficient training time at the Olympic track prior to the games. We have already had 14 days in Sochi, and have 7 more in 10 weeks. Add to the fact that a competitor died in Vancouver at the last Winter Olympics (and some teams subsequently refused to race) I hope you can see the importance of sufficient practice at the race track!"

Would you support moving the Sochi Olympics to Vancouver, or another former host of the Games? Why or why not?

Tags: Canada, POV, social media

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