US investors put pressure on Sochi sponsors over Russian anti-gay law

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US investors with combined assets of hundreds of billions of dollars have urged corporate sponsors of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed into law a bill to make it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, causing an international outcry over the games set to take place in February.

Writing in a letter to Sochi sponsors, on behalf of the investment group which oversees a $160 billion (£98 billion) retirement fund, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said: “Taking a stand against these prejudicial laws and policies is not just the right thing to do, it protects shareholder interests and corporate reputations.”

Twenty other investment funds, and other groups managing £327 billion (£200 billion) joined DiNapoli in pushing for action to be taken by sponsors, which include Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Panasonic, Samsung and Procter and Gable.

Back in August, Coca Cola’s official line on Sochi appeared to be that the games should remain there, as long as Russia adheres to the Olympic Charter.

Since, and despite a campaign by AllOut, neither of the two main sponsors, McDonald’s or Coca Cola have responded with saying they will take action.

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

Previously, the IOC 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.