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Sochi Sets Up Protest Zones In City - IOC

posted 10 Dec 2013, 15:44 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Dec 2013, 15:44 ]

IOC President Thomas Bach welcomes the announcement that Sochi will have specific protest zones for demonstrators to air their views when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics and the German also says organisers of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics have no time to lose to get the infrastructure ready.

LAUSANNESWITZERLAND (DECEMBER 10, 2013) (REUTERS) -  The city of Sochi will have specific protest zones for demonstrators to air their views when it hosts the 2014 winter Olympics in February, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was told on Tuesday (December 10).

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"We welcome the announcement of the (Sochi) organising committee that in Sochithere will be protest zones that will be established for people who want to demonstrate against something," IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters after a progress report by the Russian Games organisers.

"They (protesters) will have the opportunity to do so in special protest zones," he said.

Russia has been under mounting criticism over its human rights record, especially this year after passing an anti-gay propaganda law which critics say curtails the rights of homosexuals.

Protest zones were also created during the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but were located away from the venues and hardly used.

For Sochi, however, it is unclear how such protests could take place given theRussian Black Sea resort will be all but locked down for the Olympics for security reasons.

Russia faces security challenges because the city is next to the restive North Caucasus region, which is disrupted by almost daily violence from an Islamist insurgency rooted in two Chechen wars.

Meanwhile, Bach said organisers of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics have no time to lose with the IOC president flying into the country in the coming weeks to monitor progress.

"With further report on Rio 2016, there we could acknowledge great progress in the work of the organising committee with regard to the Olympic venue masterplan and with regard to the structure and many other issues," Bach said. "At the same time, we have to realise and also the organising committee has realised, that there is not a single moment to lose, that every effort has to be made every day to bring the construction of Olympic sites and Olympic structure forward."

Rio Games organisers have been repeatedly urged to speed up progress as the country struggles to prepare for the world's two biggest sports events - the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Bach said he was planning to visit Brazil before February and would meet BrazilPresident Dilma Rousseff to help improve work between the government and organisers.

With the country already struggling to meet deadlines for next year's World Cup, Games organisers have yet to finalise the overall budget less than three years before the event while also dropping behind in constructing the venues.

Later on Tuesday, Bach received the keys to the IOC from Honorary PresidentJacques Rogge during a handover ceremony in the newly renovated Olympic Museum in Lausanne.