Russian government assured the International Olympic Committee that the Sochi 2014 Olympics will be exempt from legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality, the IOC told R-Sport on Friday.
“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,” the IOC said in an emailed statement to the Russian news outlet. “To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
Russia passed a law in June banning gay “propaganda.” It prompted protests, even calls to boycott the Games by some. Two-time U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, an enthusiast of all things Russian who came out as gay in 2011, wrote in his weekly newspaper column that he does not think there should be a boycott.
The IOC also made a similar statement on the issue last week.
“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. 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 jeopardise this principle.
“As you know, this legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to 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.”
Putin tells critics of Russian team to ‘try some Viagra’
The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team kept its Olympic qualifying hopes alive by beating Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF tournament’s third-place game in Sandy, Utah, on Tuesday night.
Midfielder Marc Pelosi and forward Jerome Kiesewetter scored in the 69th and 84th minutes, respectively, with Canada playing with 10 men for the entire second half.
The U.S. will qualify for the Rio Olympics if — and only if — it beats Colombia in a one-game playoff in Rio de Janeiro in March.
The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic tournaments and hasn’t won a men’s soccer medal since 1904, when the Olympic tournament included three teams.
The Americans missed an earlier chance to clinch a Rio Olympic spot when they lost 2-0 to Honduras in the CONCACAF tournament semifinals Saturday.
If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can swap in a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, to its roster for the Olympics.
The U.S. took advantage of the over-age exception to add World Cup veterans in 2008 (Brian McBride) and 2000 (Brad Friedel).
The U.S. can already add three World Cup veterans without using any over-age spots, since John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin will still be eligible for the U-23 team in 2016. Even though none were used in CONCACAF qualifying.
The 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournament field:
Brazil — possibly with Neymar
Argentina — 2008 Olympic champion when it had Lionel Messi
Germany — possibly with Philipp Lahm, but unlikely for Mesut Özil
Portugal — possibly with 2004 Olympian Cristiano Ronaldo
Sweden — possibly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
U.S. or Colombia
Three Asian nations determined in January
Three African nations determined in December
MORE SOCCER: Jurgen Klinsmann’s journey to an Olympic bronze medal
“Race,” a film about Olympic sprint legend Jesse Owens, will hit theaters Feb. 19.
Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin 1936 Olympics in the face of Nazi Germany, is played by Stephan James in the film.
Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons are also in the cast for the Focus Features film, according to reports. Sudeikis will reportedly play Owens’ coach, Larry Snyder. Irons will play Avery Brundage, then the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Angelina Jolie discusses her decision to use Jesse Owens in ‘Unbroken’