Sochi Olympics: Rogge asks Russia to clarify gay law

10.08.2013 05:04

The head of the
Committee has
asked Russia to
explain how its
new law on gay
might affect
next year's
winter games.
Jacques Rogge
said in Moscow
that Russian
written reassurances over the Winter
Olympics needed clarification.
"We don't think it is a fundamental issue,
more a translation issue," Mr Rogge
Gay rights campaigners have called for
the games to be moved to another
country in protest at the law.
The law, passed in June, prescribes heavy
fines for anyone providing information
about homosexuality to people under 18.
Critics say its loose interpretation
effectively hinders any kind of public gay
rights event in Russia.
The Sochi games will be the biggest
international sporting event in Russia
since the Moscow Summer Olympics of
'Couple of paragraphs'
After British broadcaster Stephen Fry
made the call in an open letter to Mr
Rogge and others on Wednesday, the
IOC told the BBC it had received
"assurances from the highest level of
government in Russia that the
legislation" would "not affect those
attending or taking part in the Games".
However, Mr Rogge said on Friday that
there were still "uncertainties" despite
written assurances received from Sochi
organiser Dmitry Kozak.
"We are not clear about the English
translation of the Russian law and we
want clarification of this translation to be
able to understand what has been
communicated to us," he said.
"This is about a couple of paragraphs -
we don't understand all the details
because of probably a difficulty in
He added: "We are waiting for this
clarification before having final
judgement on these reassurances."
Mr Rogge was visiting Moscow ahead of
the the world athletics championships
due to start there on Saturday.
He stressed that, under the Olympic
charter, sport was a "human right and
should be available to all regardless of
race, sex, sexual orientation".
US President Barack Obama said on
Friday he did not consider it
"appropriate" to boycott the Winter
Olympics over the gay rights issue.
Instead he hoped gay and lesbian
athletes would do well at the games.
"One of the things I'm really looking
forward to is maybe some gay and
lesbian athletes bringing home the gold
or silver or bronze, which would, I think,
go a long way in rejecting the kind of
attitudes that we're seeing there," he
Homosexuality was decriminalised in
Russia in 1993 and government officials
have sought to play down the possible
impact of the bill on the Sochi games.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on
Thursday that Olympic athletes would
"have to respect the laws of the country"
during the games.
But, appealing for calm, he added that
Russia had a "constitution that
guarantees to all citizens rights for the
private life and privacy".