IOC Wants Reassurances on Russia Anti-Gay Law
The International Olympic Committee is waiting for more clarification from the Russian government on the anti-gay law that is overshadowing preparations for the Winter Games in Sochi.
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.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said Friday 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 track and field championships in Moscow.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko insisted Thursday that Olympic athletes would "have to respect the laws of the country" during the Sochi Games. On Friday, he said there was no way Russia would back down under political pressure.
Referring to Western criticism, Mutko was quoted as saying by Interfax: "I wouldn’t call the pressure light. Russia must understand that the stronger we are, the more other people aren’t going to like it. We have a unique country."
"We don’t have to be afraid of threats to boycott the Olympic Games," Mutko said. "All sensible people understand that sports demand independence, that it is inadmissible that politics intervene."