IOC wants clarification after Russia gives written confirmation anti-gay rights law won’t be enforced at Sochi Olympics

Jacques Rogge
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International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the IOC is looking at written confirmation from Russia that anti-gay rights activism legislation will not apply to athletes and visitors at the Sochi Olympics, but it needs more clarification.

The Russian law, enacted in June, bans the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors, and carries with it fines and possible prison sentences.

“There are still uncertainties and we have asked for more clarification as of today,” Rogge said at a news conference Friday in Moscow, according to R-Sport. “When we understand the law, we are prepared to abide the Olympic charter, which says sport is a human right and it should be available to all.”

Rogge said the confusion is in the translation of the law from Russian to English.

“The Olympic charter is clear,” Rogge said, according to The Associated Press. “A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation.”

The AP reported Thursday that the U.S. Olympic Committee engaged in discussions with the IOC and the U.S. State Department to ensure the safety and security of U.S. athletes at the Olympics.

“We do not know how and to what extent (the law) will be enforced,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote in a letter addressed to U.S. Olympic organizations date July 25, according to the AP.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he had no tolerance for gays and lesbians to be treated differently.

Last week, the IOC stood by its assurances from Russian officials that the law would not be enforced during the Olympics, despite Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying those “propagandizing” gay relationships would be “held accountable.” The IOC said its Russian source outranked Mutko.

Mutko said Thursday the Western criticism over the law is an attempt to “undermine Russia’s athletic performance” at the Sochi Games, according to R-Sport.

“I would call this a bit of pressure ahead of the Olympics,” Mutko said. “Russia should understand that the stronger we are, the more they don’t like it.”

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