The International Olympic Committee said in a statement addressed to its members that it has been assured by Russian government that a recent law against gay rights activism will not affect those associated with or attending the Sochi Olympics in February.
“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 as stated in the Olympic Charter,” the statement read. “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 be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. As a sports organisation, 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. To that end, the IOC has received a number of assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
President Barack Obama has voiced disagreement with the Russian law enacted in June that bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. He also does not believe in a boycott.
“I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” Obama told reporters Friday. “We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed.”
Video: Obama: No tolerance for Russia treating gays, lesbians differently
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.
Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.
The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.
“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.
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The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.
“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”
Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.
Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.
“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”
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