August 23, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, might have to add a new event: extreme boycotting. On Aug. 14 Bravo exec Andy Cohen, 45, bowed out of cohosting Miss Universe on NBC because the pageant, which airs in November, is being held in Russia. Cohen told E! News that he ”didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot in Russia” after the country enacted a law in June banning the public discussion of gay issues. Cohen’s protest is just an early shot in what could become a cold war between NBC and gay-rights advocates. NBC, which paid a reported $775 million to broadcast the February Games, has in the past managed to maintain its brand of inspiring competition coverage while skating around host-country controversies (such as China’s human-rights record in 2008), but the Russian row is threatening to unleash a blizzard of protest. Out Olympic skater Johnny Weir, 29, told CBS News on Aug. 9 that he plans to compete despite the risk: ”If it takes me getting arrested for people to pay attention…then I’m willing to take it.” While NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus told reporters last month, ”We will address it if it becomes an issue,” the network had no comment on Cohen’s announcement.

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