International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has said he is committed to ensuring the Sochi Winter Olympics are accessible to all, despite discriminatory laws enacted in host country Russia.
“The International Olympic Committee is aware that sport is a human right and must be accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation,” the 71-year-old told Sunday’s edition of Der Tagesspiegel in response to questioning about Russia’s anti-LGBT ‘propaganda’ law.
“The Games themselves must be open to all, this applies to spectators, officials, journalists and, of course, the athletes,” he said.
Mr Rogge has held the position of IOC president for 12 years. He will be replaced in a vote next month at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“The IOC will continue to work to ensure that the Games take place without discrimination,” he pledged. “We would oppose, with all our might, any movement that threatens this principle.”
He also stated: “The IOC has commitments from the highest authorities in Russia that this legislation will not affect anyone who attends the Games or takes part in them.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said that the legislation, banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships, shall not interfere with the smooth running of the Games. However, concerns remain as Russian lawmakers have confirmed that the laws will not be suspended while the Games take place.
On Friday last week, Mr Rogge reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to a Winter Olympics free of all discrimination following calls from such names as Stephen Fry and Tory MP Mike Freer to either relocate or outright boycott the games altogether.
Yesterday the US Olympic Committee (USOC) Public Affairs Officer said that Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws are “inconsistent with fundamental Olympic principles”, but also urged athletes to “respect the laws of the host country”.