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Russia Says Will Not Discriminate Against Gays At Olympics

posted 14 Aug 2013, 07:51 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 14 Aug 2013, 07:52 ]

Russian National Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov says there will be no discrimination of homosexuals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and hopes there will be no boycott of the Games

 MOSCOWRUSSIA (AUGUST 14, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Olympics chief Alexander Zhukov on Wednesday (August 14) said Russiawould be able to guarantee that there would be no discrimination against gays at the Winter Games in Sochi.

In June of this year Russia, hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Searesort of Sochi, passed a controversial anti-gay propaganda law.

Critics of the law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals. President Vladimir Putin also banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

Zhukov, however, insisted that athletes would not face discrimination at the Games.

"You know, all necessary clarifications on this subject have already been made by the government of the Russian Federation, and the Olympic Committee. I think that that's absolutely comprehensive. There will be absolutely no discrimination at Sochi based on race or matters of gender. We can guarantee this, and this fully meets what is written in the Olympic charter," Zhukov said at an event to commemorate the anniversary of Moscow hosting the 1980 Olympics.

When asked by a reporter whether athletes who waved an LGBT flag at the Winter Games would get in trouble, however, Zhukov refused to go into detail about the consequences of the law.

The ban has led some to call for a boycott of the Sochi Games. U.S. PresidentBarack Obama has voiced his concern while Puerto Rican IOC presidential candidate Richard Carrion has spoken strongly against the legislation.

"The athletes themselves, and the Olympic Committee have a huge desire to appear at the Olympics, and not mix sports with politics, so I really hope that there will be no boycotts of the Sochi Olympics," Zhukov said.

Putin has made Sochi a top priority for Russia to help its image abroad by propagating it as a modern state with top-notch infrastructure.

But the latest controversy only adds to criticism over cost overruns and accusations of widespread corruption marring the Feb. 7-23 Games.