Olympics’ governing body plans to fight discrimination in Russia

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has called for the acceptance of all athletes, ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The IOC has said it will challenge recent anti-gay legislation in the country to prevent discrimination at the Games, reports the Windy City Times.

Amid calls from LGBT activists to the boycott the 2014 event, the Olympics’ governing body stated it would strongly oppose any measure threatening openness among athletes.

“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” read the statement.

“The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.”

Passed in late June, the law in Russia bans gay “propaganda” or the promotion of LGBT issues. Some commentators have indicated that as even being openly gay could bring sanctions. Fines can be imposed on those providing information on the LGBT community to minors.

It is advised that public displays of affection or activities regarded as counter to the law may lead to fines and arrests. Foreign nationals also fall within its jurisdiction and could face detention or deportation.

The IOC’s comments, however, do not confirm what actions the body will take to ensure discrimination doesn’t prevail at the 2014 Games.

“As you know, this legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi.

“As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media. Wider political issues in the country are best dealt with by other international organizations more suited to this endeavor.”

Athletes such as New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup remain undeterred by events in Russia. The speed skater plans to take part next year wearing a rainbow pin.

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