Russia gives IOC ‘strong written reassurance’ of non-discrimination at Olympics
The IOC says it has received a letter from the Russian government reassuring it that the LGBT community will not be given different treatment to anyone else at the forthcoming Sochi Olympics of 2014.
The letter, sent by Russian Deputy Minister Dmitry Kozak, reassured the IOC that the country will uphold the Olympic Charter’s provision against discrimination of any kind.
International fears have been sparked in the wake of Russia passing the recent ‘gay propaganda to minors’ law, which provoked strong criticism, with many calling for a boycott of the games. US and British leaders, Barack Obama and David Cameron, have since spoken against such a step.
"The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety," Kozak’s letter said.
It also added that there is no law in existence in Russia that prohibits homosexuality and also, that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Therefore, the new legislation does not place any boundaries on the lives and the participation of athletes or on the spectators of the games, and does not contradict any law outlined either in the Olympic Charter or the international standards on human rights.
"We have today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation," IOC President Jacques Rogge told Reuters on Thursday.
Earlier in August, the IOC asked Russia to clarify its stance on the law, signed by President Vladimir Putin at the end of June.
While Russia has given a clear response, the question of the legal treatment of athletes and the public, should they choose to make any statements or actions that may be attributed to promoting a gay lifestyle, remains open.
However, political gestures of any kind are also prohibited by the IOC.
Homosexuality has been legal in Russia since 1993 – something that the country hopes to remind the international community about. However, critics of the new law say that the boundaries of what ‘propaganda’ means in the case of non-traditional relationships are still not defined enough to allay the fears of wrongful prosecution taking place.