olympics

The International Olympic Committee Blesses Russian Olympics Despite Anti-Gay Law

IOC says it is “satisfied” anti-LGBT advocacy law doesn’t conflict with Olympic charter. Jean-Claude Killy, who just completed the last Sochi site visit, washes his hands.

The International Olympic Committee has pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games, with the IOC announcing it is “satisfied” the country’s law banning LGBT advocacy doesn’t conflict with the Olympics’ anti-discrimination clause.

The Associated Press reported that Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, said IOC doesn’t have the authority to intervene and is convinced there will be no discrimination against athletes or spectators at the Winter Games in Sochi.

“The Olympic Charter states that all segregation is completely prohibited, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, color or other, on the Olympic territory,” he told the Associated Press. “That will be the case, we are convinced. Another thing I must add: the IOC doesn’t really have the right to discuss the laws in the country where the Olympic Games are organized. As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied, and that is the case.”

An initial version of the AP report stated, “The International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda,” but the updated version of the story focused on the IOC’s satisfaction that there would be no discrimination at the Olympic Games.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams told BuzzFeed, “The rewrite was to make it clear we are NOT endorsing the law - the original said we were ‘satisfied’ with the law. Our concern is that the games can take place without any discrimination on grounds of race sex or sexuality. We cannot however intervene in national legislation.”

The games kick off in Sochi on Feb. 7.

The IOC gave its blessing to the Sochi Games at the conclusion of a final site visit to Sochi and in the face of mounting international criticism over Russia’s law, which outlaws “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors,” which many worry could be applied to gay athletes and visitors to the games.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the propaganda ban into law in late June. In August, he signed an additional decree banning all demonstrations and rallies in Sochi for two and a half months around the time of the games, a measure that would thwart protests by gay rights activists during the games.

In a statement from the IOC, it truncated the quotation in question from Killy:

olympic.org

[UPDATE: This story was updated with further explanation from the IOC and a rewrite of the Associated Press story about comments from Killy. Sept. 26, 2:30 p.m.]

Additional reporting for this story was provided by Chris Geidner.

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