Russia will indeed enforce a new law against gay rights activism during the Sochi Olympics, its sports minister told R-Sport on Thursday, but the International Olympic Committee remains unfazed.
“An athlete of nontraditional sexual orientation isn’t banned from coming to Sochi,” Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told R-Sport. “But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable.”
The IOC responded.
“For the time being, we rest with the assurances we have … that this law will not affect either athletes, officials or spectators,” spokesman Andrew Mitchell told R-Sport in an email.
R-Sport understands that the source of the assurances cited by the IOC outranks Mutko.
Last week, the IOC said it “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.” Some have called for Olympic boycotts, including through petitions. The law includes fines up to $3,000, 15 days in prison and even deportation, according to The Associated Press.
Imposing fines on individuals accused of spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors, and even proposing penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media. Gay pride rallies also are banned.
Also on Thursday, two-time U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, who came out in January 2011, wrote in his weekly column that he has been invited to perform in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“With luck on my side, I will be there come October,” he wrote in the Falls Church (Va.) News-Press.
Bill Johnson update: health has ‘improved tremendously’
We already knew Katie Ledecky can beat the boys in practice, even an Olympic champion.
One of the many takeaways from this week’s Sports Illustrated profile of Ledecky is that she has beaten 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte in practice.
Ledecky and Lochte may rep different swim clubs — Ledecky in Washington, D.C., and Lochte in Charlotte — but they both take trips to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for altitude training.
“She swims like a guy,” Lochte said after training with Ledecky in Colorado Springs in March, according to SI. “I’ve never seen a female swimmer like that. … Her times are becoming good for a guy. She’s beating me now, and I’m like, What’s going on?”
When Ledecky broke the women’s 1500m freestyle world record for the third time at the August 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, her time of 15:28.36 was .01 faster than Lochte’s 1500m free time at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials (one of the rare instances Lochte swam a 1500m free).
Ledecky has since re-broken the women’s 1500m free world record twice more, bringing it down to 15:25.48.
“I trained with her in Colorado once, and she made me look like I was stopping,” Lochte reportedly told media on his 31st birthday, Aug. 3 at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia. “She flew by me.”
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Athens Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch will manage the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent minor-league baseball team on Sunday and, reportedly, become the first woman to manage a men’s pro baseball team.
Finch, a pitcher, retired from softball in 2010, two years after her sport’s Olympic farewell in Beijing, where she and the U.S. took silver behind Japan.
Finch has been an advocate for softball’s return to the Olympics, which could happen in Tokyo 2020.
The International Olympic Committee is expected to decide in August if baseball and softball, among four other sports, will be added for the Tokyo Games.
Finch, who is married to former MLB pitcher Casey Daigle, is also known for having struck out Albert Pujols.
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