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.