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International Olympic Committee concerned about gays at Sochi Games

“We would oppose in the strongest terms” any discrimination: IOC

The medals for the 2014 Sochi Games. Credit: sochi2014.com

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released a statement to the Windy City Times on July 17, calling for acceptance of all gay athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

“The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle,” the IOC statement reads.  

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law earlier this month, banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” 

The law characterizes propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relations” as “spreading the information in order to form non-traditional sexual desires in children, describing such relations as attractive, promoting the distorted understanding of social equality of traditional and non-traditional relations and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest to such relations."

The law could effectively ban all public displays of homosexuality. 

While critical of the law, the IOC was reserved about consequences for Russia:

"As you know, this legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. 

“As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media. Wider political issues in the country are best dealt with by other international organizations more suited to this endeavor."

Some Russian gay activists are calling for a boycott of the Sochi Games.

Russian Olympic officials have already rejected an application to set up a Pride house in Sochi like the one pioneered in 2010 at the Vancouver Games and repeated at the London Games.