President Putin Vows Sochi Games to Be Held 'Without Discrimination'
Published: January 17, 2014 (Issue # 1793)
With three weeks to go until the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia's President Vladimir Putin vowed the Games would be held “without any discrimination” against athletes and visitors.
In June, Putin signed into law a bill forbidding the promotion of homosexuality to minors, sparking months of controversy ahead of the February 7-23 event in Sochi.
While the law’s proponents argue it is aimed at protecting children from harmful influences, critics allege the move restricts freedom of speech and is part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
“The Games will be held in complete compliance with the Olympic Charter, without any discrimination on the basis of any characteristic,” Putin said.
The Olympic Charter states that: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
Putin has previously said that Russia will “do everything” to ensure a warm welcome for Sochi guests “regardless … of sexual orientation.”
Russia's Interior Ministry, which controls the police, has vowed to enforce the controversial anti-gay law at the Olympics. There will also be tight restrictions on protests, which are confined to a park in a small town that lies more than 12 kilometers from any Olympic venues.
Implementing the protest zone also complies with the Olympic charter, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said last week.
U.S. President Barack Obama will not attend the Games, and his nomination of two gay former athletes to America's Olympic delegation has been widely interpreted as a comment on the Russian law.
Putin Offers Assurances on Gay Rights at Sochi Olympics
Sochi Asks IOC to Help Stop Gay Law 'Speculation