Olympics still waiting on a ‘translation issue’ before it can take a stand on Russian anti-gay laws
Following calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic Games over controversial anti-gay legislation in Russia, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has affirmed that “sport is a human right”, but it is unable to take measures until a “translation issue” has been resolved in the Russian laws.
On Friday, IOC president Jacques Rogge reaffirmed his organisation’s commitment to a Winter Olympics free of all discrimination following calls from such names as Stephen Fry and Tory MP Mike Freer to either relocate or outright boycott the games altogether.
President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.
However, Mr Rogge said the IOC was unable to make any decision about measures to take until they had clarification over the Russian law.
He said that the clarifications were to do with the English translation of a couple of paragraphs in the text.
The 71-year-old, who steps down from his post in September, was asked whether he would condemn the law.
He said that without the full details he could not comment. But he also made it clear the rules within the Olympic Charter had to be respected.
“We have to abide by the Olympic charter, the charter is very clear,” said Mr Rogge.
He added: “Sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation.”
Mr Rogge, who has been in the post for 12 years having been elected by his fellow IOC members in Moscow, said that assurances had been received but more clarity was required.
He said: “The law was adopted and we received assurances from the head organiser of the Sochi Olympics
“We asked for and received the assurances in writing but we are still seeking clarifications on two paragraphs in which we are not clear about the translation of the Russian law.
“It is more a translation issue not about fundamentals.”
As to whether the IOC would discipline athletes who made protests during the Games, Mr Rogge also said that it was not yet clear.
“We would treat every case independently,” he added.
He said: “It is not intended to deprive people of any religion, race or sexual orientation but to ban the promotion of non-traditional relations among the young generation.
“I was in Sochi yesterday and all the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected…but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in.”
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