Greece: Dozens protest against Russian anti-gay law ahead of Olympic flame hand over

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A protest has taken place in central Athens ahead of the handover of the Olympic flame to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics organisers.

Activists protested peacefully by sitting on the steps of the Acropolis Museum. Some held rainbow flags, and others held a banner which read: “Homophobia is not in the Olympic Spirit”, and “Love is not Propaganda”.

There was little police presence, and there were no incidents reported.

The official handover of the flame was set to take place later on Saturday.

The 22nd Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place Feb. 7-23 in Sochi. Some 2,800 athletes from more than 80 countries are due to compete.

The Olympic flame was lit in Greece last Saturday, and the International Olympic Committee’s new president gave repeated reassurances, ahead of February’s Sochi Winter Olympics which have been surrounded by controversy over Russian anti-gay laws.

Last Thursday, the International Olympic Committee declared the “magnificent” Olympic venues in Sochi ready for the 2014 Winter Games. 

IOC Co-ordination Committee Chairman Jean-Claude Killy dismissed concerns over Russian anti-gay legislation. “As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin signed legislation in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors.