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Seb Coe Speaks Out Against Boycotting Sochi Winter Olympics

posted 10 Aug 2013, 06:05 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Aug 2013, 06:06 ]

IAAF vice-president and London 2012 organising commitee chairman Sebastian Coe speaks against a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia.

MOSCOWRUSSIA (AUGUST 10, 2013) (AMS/DENTSU/REUTERS) -  Sebastian Coe's life was changed by his 1,500m gold medal at the politically riven 1980 Olympics so it came as no surprise to hear him argue on Saturday (August 10) that a suggested boycott of next year's Sochi Games was misplaced.

Coe, along with many other British athletes, defied a government call to boycott the Moscow Games in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and went on to win the 1,500 after surprisingly losing to compatriot Steve Ovett in his preferred 800.

Back at the same Luzhniki stadium for the athletics world championship 33 years later, Coe, anIAAF council member, dismissed calls for a boycott of the Sochi winter Olympics over Russia's new anti-gay propaganda law.

"Yes, I am against boycotts. I don't think they achieve what they set out to do. They only damage one set of people, and that is the athletes. And I am a profound believer that international sport and relationships developed through international sport are often in the infancy of social change," said Coe, who headed the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics and is widely tipped to be the next president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"I believe that coming to Moscow in 1980 was the right thing to do, and 10 years later we see those changes. So, international sport is not an inhibitor. It's not an inhibitor of social change, It actually has quite strong catalytic effects. So the issue, the answer to...the issue is one that will have to be addressed, but it is not an issue that is one of a boycott," said Coe.

Coe, speaking to reporters during the mid-day break in the first day's action of the Aug. 10-18 championships, added that he agreed with the comments of International Olympic Committeepresident Jacques Rogge, who said on Friday that the IOC wanted a clear translation of the law and clarification of how it would be applied.

Russia, hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, passed the law in June.

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

Critics of the law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

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.