President Vladimir Putin promised Monday that gay athletes and guests at the Winter Olympics in Sochi will feel at ease, seeking to assuage fears fueled by a recent Russian law banning gay ”propaganda.”
Speaking at a meeting with heads of Russian winter sports federations, which was also attended by visiting IOC President Thomas Bach, Putin said Sochi would be fully tolerant.
”On my own and on your behalf, I have assured Mr. President (Bach) that we will do our best, and our athletes and fans will do their best too, so that both participants and guests feel themselves comfortable at Sochi Olympics regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation,” Putin said. ”I would like to underline that.”
Preparations for the Sochi Olympics have been overshadowed by international criticism of a recently enacted Russian law outlawing ”propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” Many worry that law may apply to gay athletes and visitors to the games.
The IOC has said it received assurances from the Russian government that it will respect the Olympic Charter, which prohibits discrimination of any kind at the games. Gay rights groups have accused the IOC of not doing enough to pressure Russia on the issue.
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