On Monday, Putin took the time to assure Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), “We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation.”
It seems Putin’s remarks were a well-timed attempt to redeem his reputation on an international scale and maintain positive relations with the IOC. The President claims there is no discrimination against the gay community in Russia, which decriminalized homosexual acts in 1993—but effectively criminalized homosexuals themselves earlier in 2013.
These words are once more shadowed by the reality of the recent law banning homosexual propaganda among minors. The IOC have also been in a tense position, attempting to maintain a respectful relationship with Russia in preparation for the Olympics but also trying to preserve a human rights stance for the LGBT activists placing pressure on them.
Many fear that the new laws could cause problems for visiting gay athletes, fans and reporters, while others hope to show a sign of protest and support for the oppressed Russian LGBT community.
When the law was put in place, in addition to all the protests and negative attention Putin received, activists also demanded a boycott of the Games.
Despite all the negative hype in the build-up to the games, Bach still praised Putin for the work Russia has put into preparing the games, saying, “we are fully confident that the Games will be on a magnificent level.”
October 29 marks one hundred days left in the countdown to the winter Olympics in Sochi.