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Europe

Russia asked to clarify gay law ahead of Sochi Olympics

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-08-11

The Russian government has been asked to clarify its position on the anti-gay law that is overshadowing preparations for the Winter Games in Sochi, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said Friday.

The International Olympic Committee is waiting for more clarifications from the Russian government on the anti-gay law that is overshadowing preparations for the Winter Games in Sochi, IOC President Jacques Rogge said Friday.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. It has caused a major international outcry and spawned calls for protests ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in the Black Sea resort.

Rogge said the Russian government provided written re-assurances about the law on Thursday, but that some elements are still too unclear to pass judgment.

‘’We are waiting for the clarifications before having the final judgment on these reassurances,” Rogge said, a day before the start of the world athletics championships in Moscow.

On Thursday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko insisted that Olympic athletes would “have to respect the laws of the country” during the Sochi Games. But he also said that, beyond the law, Russia has “a constitution that guarantees to all citizens rights for the private life and privacy.”

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

Even if Russia accepts that principle, the law leaves open the issue of athletes speaking freely during the games.

"As far as the freedom of expression is concerned, of course, this is something that is important,” Rogge said. “But we cannot make a comment on the law” until the clarifications have been received.

"I understand your impatience to get the full picture, but we haven’t (received) it today,” Rogge said. “There are still too many uncertainties in the text.”

Rogge said the problems seemed to center on translations. ‘’We don’t think it is a fundamental issue,” he said at a news conference following a meeting of the IOC executive board with the International Association of Athletics Federations.

(AP)

Date created : 2013-08-09

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