Clare Balding: It was more powerful for me to go to Sochi than boycott it

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Famed sports broadcaster Clare Balding has spoken out about attending the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year, saying she thought it sent “a more powerful message” to go, rather than to boycott the games.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law last year which bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. The new law caused an international uproar, with many calling for broadcasters and celebrities to boycott the games.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Mirror, Balding explained her reasons for attending, and why she thought it important to lead the BBC’s coverage at the Winter Olympics.

She said: “I felt it was very important. I was the lead presenter on the Winter Olympics, I am openly gay, in a country that would rather I didn’t exist.

“I think it is a powerful message to say to anybody – whether they are a nurse, a doctor, a teacher – this is OK, you can go and do this and be the best you can be at it.

“I personally believed it was a stronger statement to go than not to go and that was why I went.”

She previous said it would have been “easier to avoid going, but the easy option isn’t always the right one.”

Ms Balding’s civil partner, former BBC Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold also recently said “Britain’s homophobia needs to be tackled before we turn to Russia’s.”