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Greece: Protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws as Olympic flame begins trip to Sochi

Activist says IOC should have 'taken a stand' against legislation

Russia's deputy prime minister, Dmitry Kozak, carries the Olympic flame. Credit: itv.com

While some activists held a banner that read “Homophobia is not in the Olympic Spirit” and “Love is not Propaganda,” others unfurled rainbow flags prior to the handing over of the Olympic flame to Sochi Games officials in Athens, Greece, Pink News reports.

The flame was lit inside Athens' Panathinaiko Stadium on Sept 29 and was handed over to Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Kozak, on Oct 5.

Kozak is one of a number of Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, who have dismissed global outcry against the host country’s anti-gay laws and have given assurances that LGBT athletes and spectators have nothing to fear during the Winter Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), through its former president Jacques Rogge and his successor, Thomas Bach, has said it is satisfied with those assurances.

Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC’s coordination committee, has also said that the governing body would be satisfied as long as the Olympic Charter is adhered to, a statement that was slammed by both Amnesty International and the Human Rights Campaign.

The Winnipeg Free Press quotes activist Zak Kostopoulos as saying, “The Olympics should have taken a stand against this law in Russia because the Olympic ideals are for supporting human rights and diversity and that's not what's happening in Russia.”

On Oct 6, the flame was transported to Moscow and was met by Putin in Red Square, BuzzFeed reports.

After a final site visit before the Games begin in February, IOC officials gave an approving assessment of the Olympic venues, saying they were “magnificent,” even as the event’s final price tag is projected to be in the range of $50 billion, more than four times the original estimate.

A CBC documentary entitled Putin’s Road to Sochi traces the social, environmental and financial costs of hosting the Games.