International Olympic Committee: “We have to be prepared” for conflict over Russian laws

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With the Winter Olympics gearing up in less than six months, Olympic sponsors are worrying about Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, with some expecting to drop their partnerships before the event begins. Several sponsors have pleaded with the International Olympic Committee to stop the campaign, with Russians agreeing.

“I think this could ruin a lot for all of us,” the Committee’s marketing commission chairman, Gerhard Heiberg told the Associated Press. “We have to be prepared.”

The International Olympic Committee wanted to stress that LGBT athletes and spectators will not be subjected to the law as Russia does not technically ban homosexuals themselves.

“We are absolutely confident that there will be no conflicts in that regards. It will not stop (Sochi) 2014 from proudly upholding the Olympic values, I promise you,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said. “The constitution of the Russian federations allows for homosexuality. And we have received strong reassurances that this law will not affect participants in the Sochi Games.”

The law stated that any “homosexual propaganda,” or promotion of the LGBT community through social media, is what is being restricted.

Russia’s Interior Ministry has said it will enforce the country’s anti-LGBT laws, while the International Olympic Committee is urging athletes not to protest during the games with threats of disqualification.

“The IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter, which states that the venues of the Olympic games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration,” an IOC spokesperson told Gay Star News. “This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary.”

Swedish athletes Emma Green Tregaro and Moa Hjelmer were scolded for wearing rainbow-colored nail polish and raising the rainbow flag.

President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have criticized Russia, prompting Putin to claim “there is no discrimination against gay people in Russia.”

“I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields,” Putin said in a interview with the Associate Press. “We have absolutely normal relations and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.”

Implemented on June 30, the laws were justified by claiming to “protect the youth” and maintain the country’s Catholic Orthodox values.

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